When RBC Wealth Management's Minneapolis employees packed up for the move to the new RBC Gateway headquarters in early 2022, a different downtown organization was making a move of its own.
Simpson Housing Services, a nonprofit providing shelter and supportive housing to people experiencing and transitioning out of homelessness, had outgrown its administrative office in south Minneapolis. In 2019, the organization started a search for a new headquarters and purchased a vacant space close to downtown.
That's when Lee Thoresen, senior counsel and head of regulatory for RBC Wealth Management–U.S., had an idea. Thoresen, who also serves on Simpson Housing Services' board of directors, wondered if there was a way RBC's move could benefit the nonprofit. Dozens of workstations had been recently updated in RBC Plaza, the firm's former Minneapolis headquarters, but with many employees working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, much of the furniture was barely used and wouldn't be making the move to RBC's new building.
“I thought, 'Well, here is an amazing opportunity for RBC Wealth Management to partner with the community,'" Thoresen says. So she started looking into whether the gently used office furniture could be donated to Simpson Housing Services.
It didn't take long for Thoresen to get her colleagues on board with the idea of using the move to support not just Simpson, but other local organizations as well.
“We were immediately excited about the opportunity to help our valued community partners in Minneapolis," says Martha Baumbach, RBC Wealth Management's director of community affairs.
Rows of donated workstations from RBC Wealth Management's former headquarters fill Simpson Housing Services' new Minneapolis office.
Up to the task
Work got underway with the RBC Gateway move coordinator, Turner & Townsend, and Simpson Housing Services to select the furniture for donation and manage the daunting task of packing up and transporting it all to the new space.
“This is such a gift for the agency," says Steve Horsfield, executive director of Simpson Housing Services. “The furniture provides our staff with a place to collaborate and recharge while performing the important work that they do."
Enough furniture was donated to accommodate 60 employees as well as provide future workstations as Simpson continues to expand. RBC Wealth Management also worked with its digital services vendor to coordinate the donation, delivery and installation of several television screens and a projector.
“It was truly a collaboration of so many people," Thoresen says. “The donation of money, materials, time and labor is truly astounding and so appreciated."
Chairs and other donated furniture items in Simpson Housing Service's entrance lobby.
Everything must go
Simpson Housing Services wasn't the only nonprofit in the Twin Cities to benefit from RBC's move. The firm also donated office supplies, kitchen items and appliances to Haven for Heroes, an organization dedicated to providing safe places for military veterans and their families. Other furniture, such as chairs and couches, went to cabins at Camp Fire Minnesota, a youth development organization that runs camps, environmental education field trips and out-of-school programs.
Additionally, executive assistant and employee volunteer champion Sara Rasmussen organized a plant drawing for employees who wanted to take home greenery from RBC Plaza. The drawing raised nearly $1,000 for Spark-Y, a nonprofit empowering youth through hands-on education rooted in sustainability and entrepreneurship.
Just as it was important for RBC Wealth Management to maintain its commitment to Minneapolis in selecting the site for its new headquarters, it was also meaningful for the firm to be able to make a difference for local organizations through the move itself, says Chief Administrative Officer Tammy Buchert, who managed the planning for and move to RBC Gateway.
“It's important to us to be good stewards of the Twin Cities community," says Buchert, who also serves on the board of Camp Fire. “Supporting these nonprofits and charities is a core part of our culture and values at RBC Wealth Management."
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