We had lunch together at the ASCII Success Summit in Boston last week, and while we ate and exchanged business cards, MSP David Rose told me he had just experienced his proudest moment as a small IT business owner, and it made him a little emotional. When he pulled out his phone to show me, I expected to see a glowing customer testimonial or a press release touting an impressive financial milestone. Nope.
It was an announcement that Citizens Bank had named Rose Computer Technology Services of Williston, Vt., one of 30 companies (from nearly 11,000 entries) to win its Fifth Annual Small Business Community Champion Award. This year’s program includes the 14 states and the District of Columbia in Citizens’ footprint. The award recognizes each winner’s efforts toward strengthening their communities.
That’s something Rose has been doing since founding his company in April of 1997 after 12 years as executive vice president for Inacom Information Systems. “One of our four core company values is giving back to the community. From day one, I've built that into the culture of Rose Computer,” he says.
Now grown to a 12-person MSP, Rose Computer chose three local organizations to support: Spectrum Youth and Family Services, The Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS), and the Williston Community Food Shelf. All address issues of homelessness, hunger and food insecurity, and prevention and intervention.
“I was extremely fortunate; I lived a privileged life. Not everybody has that. That's why I went to those organizations that are helping the people that need the most help in our local community,” says Rose, when asked what resonated for him with those particular nonprofits.
Rose began his foray into community involvement with Spectrum’s Strength in Slumbers, an annual fundraiser in which participants sleep out in solidarity with homeless young adults in Vermont. His first sleepout did not go quite as planned, but left a lasting impression of the challenges and hardships of being homeless during a Vermont winter.
“You meet downstairs in the basement of the church, and they tell you about who they are and their mission,” he recounts. “They typically have one or more of their clients give a speech about how it's changed their lives. It's very moving. Then they give you a large piece of cardboard and a water bottle. And you go outside and there's a big tent … and you set up your spot.”
Rose put his sleeping bag on the cardboard, and his water bottle on top of his sleeping bag, and stepped away to mingle with some other local business owners and some of his customers who were participating. When he returned, his bottle had leaked, soaking both the sleeping bag and the cardboard. He toughed it out that cold, windy March night.
“It was just a miserable night, that very first night, and I was determined not to go inside because people that are homeless don't have that as an option. That's really the point of the sleepout.”