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Chili, ping-pong and denim unlikely allies in HAY Center support

05 Dec 2016

Chili-making can be a serious business, particularly when there’s a competition over whose is the tastiest.

In Macquarie’s Houston office recently, chili recipes were considered, every ingredient discussed, and side dishes examined in detail as part of a fundraising challenge to determine who would be crowned Best Chili Maker. Coordinator Liz Schaffner said participants “really stepped up their game” and some creative chili was served as a result.

Food quality aside, the main aim of the cook-off was the funds raised for Houston non-profit the HAY Center, an organisation which helps foster youth transition to adulthood through employment, education, housing, mental health and life skills programs.

More than US$50,000 was contributed through a variety of fundraising challenges in which Macquarie Houston employees participated for the Center during October, including a ping-pong tournament, bake sale, Texas-themed cocktails at a silent auction, the sale of passes permitting denim-wearing days and a rowing challenge.

Schaffner also helped arrange for 12 staff to assemble some newly-purchased chairs and tables and decorate the HAY Center’s new premises one Saturday morning - in the process finding out that one of the team had expert upholstering skills, which was not a talent that had previously emerged within the office.

Momentum to support the HAY Center within Macquarie has built in recent years as more staff have learned about the services provided. Ten people signed up to attend a recent training session the Center offers to become mentors to fostered youth, and some of the HAY clients recently visited Macquarie’s offices for a tour of the trading floor.

“People are giving up their time as well as their money to support the Center which is a really valuable commodity and definitely strengthens the relationship,” Schaffner said. “Certainly the more I have got to learn about their work the more enamoured I have become with the model – I had no idea what a need there was and what impact they are making.”

The HAY Center’s Transitional Services director, Mary Green, said Macquarie employees have made a huge impact on the organisation.

“Volunteers have been part of improving our space and improving the outlook of the youth we serve,” she said.

“They have provided manpower, funds and their time to make sure that foster youth have experiences that otherwise they would not have the opportunity to learn from. We’re so grateful for Liz's leadership, which has resulted in a big new partnership for the HAY Center.”

Image caption: Volunteers from Macquarie’s Houston office at the newly refurbished HAY Center.