OZ Gives – Telling the Story

Last month, we started collecting stories from our staff about their experience and history giving back to the community. We are highlighting those that contribute on a regular basis and have dedicated their time to a good cause year after year. These OZites give their insights and provide inspiration for others to get involved and share their story.

This month we heard from Managing Principal Becky Stone, Principal Jim Bershof, and Senior Associate Darcey Vertuca.

1.What inspires you to give?

Becky Stone: I am inspired by my kids above all. I want to be as fully involved in their activities and interests as I can possibly be as a career mom. Kids grow very fast and before I know it they will be out of the house. I find ways to contribute to all of their activities and find this involves me as a vested interested party in their lives and truly helps me to stay involved. I also really enjoy the ULI because it is an organization that looks at place making in both urban and resort environments, something I am passionate about.

Jim Bershof: As architects and designers, we have a particular and rare set of skills which we can use to help others in our community.

Darcey Vertuca: Growing up, I was always encouraged to get involved with extracurricular activities inside and outside of school. I have always enjoyed volunteering because you see the benefits in the people/place or thing that you are helping out with. It is great to see the small efforts of many can go a really long way for a family or organization. Even a small gesture as buying and wrapping gifts for families at Christmas, or volunteering for the AIAS during grad school, it is always fun to spend a few hours a month helping others in need.

2.What are your favorite organizations to give to?

Becky: ULI – both at the National and Regional level. This organization takes a lot of volunteers and is made up of very high-level professionals in the field. I also really enjoy Destination Imagination. This program promotes creative thinking and problem solving in young people. I find this is missing from the standard school track, and something that will help all kids develop skills needed for leadership roles in the future.

Jim: My favorite organization to give to is the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver. I have served on their Property Management Committee for about 20 years and on their Board of Directors for about 15. The Property Management Committee oversees all of their facilities, so I have helped them with pro-bono design services, including helping solve problems within their buildings as well as designing additions and remodels. And, over the last several years, the Boys and Girls Clubs have hired OZ for the design of three new Boys and Girls Clubs in the Metro Denver Area.

Darcey: Currently I have been active with the Junior League of Denver for the past 8 years. The organization empowers women to be better volunteers in our community. The Junior League of Denver is a women’s training organization that develops civic leaders committed to improving our community. We are currently working to improve literacy rates in the Denver metro area for children, from birth through third grade. Founded in 1918, the League started many well-known Denver institutions including the Children’s Museum of Denver, the Mile High Transplant Bank, and the Red Rocks concerts. I have also enjoyed working with or donating to the Colorado Autism foundation, Habitat for Humanity, and American Cancer Society in the past.

3. What would you say to help motivate others to give?

Becky: I find that donating my time to service and giving to others helps to fulfill personal and professional growth and leadership. Career and family are important to me, and finding ways to contribute to both of those above and beyond is very enlightening.

Jim: The personal pleasure and sense of accomplishment one gets from these types of efforts is life-affirming and very rewarding. And, while I can encourage others to participate in these types of activities, you can’t truly appreciate the personal rewards until experiencing firsthand what your efforts can help make happen. 

Darcey: It doesn’t take much time to make an impact. A few hours or a few dollars can really make a difference with many organizations. I would recommend all to personally get involved in an activity as a hands-on experience. Packing gift baskets at Denver Health Hospital for the Newborns in Need program is an easy activity but has a big impact.