Jul 15 16

SofterWare Delivers 1740 Pounds of Food

by Sam Goldenberg

It was billed as the battle of the century. Two mighty teams pitted against each other in the cause of ‘good’. In one corner, you had the fierce Implementation team (the folks that get our clients up and running quickly, and on the right track from the very start). In the other corner was the Sales and Marketing teams. At stake was bragging rights for which team could bring in the most food for Loaves & Fishes, a local food bank that SofterWare has committed to donating 2000 pounds of food in 2016. We started out in 2014 by giving during the winter holidays, but they told us their greatest need is during the summer when school is out. So we began a summer food drive in 2015, which led to our year long commitment this year.

I’m happy to report the winner and still champion: Loaves & Fishes! This contest was so competitive, we raised 1,740 pounds of food! Given our previous deliveries this year, we already surpassed our 2016 goal with a total of 2,273 pounds! Not too shabby! Special thanks to all who contributed, and Paula Burns for coming up with this great idea to compete! We look forward to other departments battling for this great cause. For you nonprofits out there, this is a good lesson. Competition brings results, and in this case, the results benefited Loaves & Fishes. Think of ways to do this for your nonprofit!

Steven and  Alex give each other hand with the heavy boxes (thank goodness for interns!)

Steven and Alex give each other hand with the heavy boxes (thank goodness for interns!)

Sales Manager Paul packing up the goods collected from the sales and marketing teams.

Sales Manager Paul packing up the goods collected from the sales and marketing teams.

EZCare account manager swoops in at the last minute with a heavy pallet of food to win the contest for the sales and marketing teams - thanks Audrey!

Don’t pack that last box yet Paul! Here comes Audrey swooping in at the last minute with a heavy pallet of food.

The boys are checking out their great work: our hallways are filled with food!

Alex checks out the results: our hallways are filled with food!

Shane and Paul pack-up the pick-ups with all the good grub.

Shane and Paul pack-up the pick-ups with all the good grub.

More loading to be done. In fact, we needed two pick-up trucks to carry all the food!

More loading to be done. In fact, we needed two pick-up trucks to carry all the food!

Alex, Steven, Paul, Frank, Eleanor, and Shane take a well-deserved break after loading up two trucks of food!

Alex, Stephen, Paul, Frank, Eleanor, and Shane take a well-deserved break after loading up two trucks of food!

All that food is now crowding up the Loaves & Fishes hallways!

All that food is now crowding up the Loaves & Fishes hallways!

All the movers and shakers in this food haul, including Eleanor, Frank, Paul, John, Steven, Alex, Steve, and Mike.

All the movers and shakers in this food haul, including Eleanor, Frank, Paul, John, Steven, Alex, Steve, and Mike.

May 1 16

Earth Day at the Ambler YMCA

by Sam Goldenberg
Folks from SofterWare got to show off their green thumbs by volunteering on Earth Day for the Ambler YMCA.  The first goal was to build a garden, so our amazing team shoveled dirt from a pretty big pile, wheel barreled it to the new raised garden bed, and dumped and leveled it. They also did the same thing to a pile of wood chips to put them in the playground, making it safer for the kids.
SofterWare volunteers: Kathy, Eleanor, Joshua, Illona, Miranda, Shane, Jess, Becky, Dan, Theresa and her daughter Bri.

SofterWare volunteers: Kathy, Eleanor, Joshua, Illona, Miranda, Shane, Jess, Becky, Dan, Theresa and her daughter Bri.

Illona and Jess are filling the garden boxes to keep out the critters (I guess, the author only has plastic plants in his home due to the death of too many poor plants)

Illona and Jess are filling the garden boxes to keep out the critters (I guess, the author only has plastic plants in his home due to the death of too many poor plants).

Eleanor and Miranda take a break from their labor to pose for the paparazzi.

Eleanor and Miranda take a break from their labor to pose for the paparazzi.

The beds are ready for the flowers and veggies to come (do they grow balsamic vinaigrette to go with it?)

The beds are ready for the flowers and veggies to come (do they grow balsamic vinaigrette to go with it?)

Illona works to get the playground safe from boo-boos.

Illona works to get the playground safe from boo-boos.

 

Apr 3 16

SofterWare Gives Blood

by Sam Goldenberg

It’s that time of year when the folks at SofterWare roll up their sleeves – literally. The American Red Cross came to our offices so 17 donors could provide much-needed, life-saving blood.  One participant even went through the extra process of Double Red Cell Donation, allowing a donor to safely donate two units of red blood cells during one donation while returning their plasma and platelets to them.

Debbie and Linda wrangled up some replenishing grub for the volunteers in our make-shift canteen.

Debbie and Linda wrangled up some replenishing grub for the volunteers in our make-shift canteen.

Ron, a pint low, but still all smiles while donating the gift of life.

Ron, a pint low, but still all smiles while donating the gift of life.

John takes a well-deserved siesta while donating.

John takes a well-deserved siesta while donating.

Laura, pictured here after her donation, and Jim are the coordinators of our blood drives. They do a great job of getting the word out (I do marketing here and I can learn a thing or three from them).

Laura, pictured here after her donation, and Jim are the coordinators of our blood drives. They do a great job of getting the word out (I do marketing here and I can learn a thing or three from them).

Apr 3 16

Volunteers for Children’s Scholarship Fund Bring Great Joy

by Sam Goldenberg

Volunteering for a nonprofit always provides participants an opportunity to feel good by helping out a good cause, though sometimes it involves hard work, long hours, and sometimes not so pleasant tasks (I’ve picked up my fair share of icky trash in park clean-ups). Not so for several SofterWare employees who got the enviable volunteer task of calling families on behalf of the Children’s Scholarship Fund of Philadelphia, a DonorPerfect client who was one of the recipients of SofterWare’s EITC donation. Joe Stafford, Evan Doyle, Kathy Piunti and Eleanor Stasio helped called over 2,000 lucky recipients with the happy news: full school scholarships to K-8 students in financial need to a tuition-based school. Here is a video snippet of a family receiving a call.

Joe, Evan, Eleanor, Kathy and Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia

Joe, Evan, Eleanor, Kathy and Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia

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Evan making someone very happy!

 

 

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Eleanor bringing some good tidings to a deserving family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 29 16

SofterWare Celebrates 35 Years By Giving Back

by Sam Goldenberg

SofterWare recently celebrated its 35th anniversary, which is pretty amazing considering half the company wasn’t even born when we started! For 35 years, we’ve combined our holiday party with our anniversary party, and held it in February or March. “Whaaaa?” you say? Trust me, it makes perfect sense to do it now. The fun of the holidays are long over, football is over, and spring is still 40 degrees away.  Since I couldn’t convince our exec team to fly over 150 of us from Philly to Key West, this party was a nice alternative.

This year, in addition to our traditional schmoozing, and lots of eating, we decided to celebrate our 35 years by giving back. When everyone came in, they were given $250 of SofterWare “funny money” to play blackjack, roulette, and craps. They were a big hit as the tables were filled immediately. I must have explained my limited knowledge of craps to 10 people. They were blowin’ on dice, screaming “Yo Eleven” and booing everyone who crapped out.

Gambling

Anyone who won or had money left  at the end of the night could trade them in for tickets. They could then put those tickets into ten baskets representing ten charities nominated and chosen by our staff in a company vote. All told, we donated $3,740 to charities, and partied like movie stars in the process. Not a bad way to spend a cold winter night!

Feb 15 16

Cupid Delivers Carnations & Donations

by Sam Goldenberg

On Valentine’s day, thoughts turn to chocolates, flowers, romantic meals, and love.  Did I mention chocolates? Any holiday that involves the giving of chocolate is a winner in my book.  But there is a dark side to all holidays, especially Valentine’s Day: forgetting it!  Whoa unto the person who forgets to get their love a Valentine something or other (unless you clear it with each other ahead of time, and even then you better make sure they really mean it!)

Fortunately at SofterWare, we make forgetting a thing of the past!  Our very own cupid, Karen Konchinsky, spent part of her day Friday delivering carnations to staff members that were paid for by other staff members.

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We got to show our appreciation to our fellow SofterWarians, with the added bonus of helping some local charities.

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175 carnations were delivered, netting $255. A carnation buyer (your’s truly) was randomly selected to pick a charity to receive the proceeds.  I chose two: The Play It Forward Hockey Foundation, which was started by our very own Quality Assurance manager Jeff Pagano, and Warrington Youth Baseball, which our VP for Fundraising Solution Jon Biedermann holds near and dear to his heart.  (When Jon has a new DonorPerfect fundraising software feature to test, he frequently includes them in our testing, so I wanted to say thank you to the little leaguers for stepping up to the plate on so many occasions!) Jon said “The money will be put to good use helping those who can’t afford baseball be able to still play through our scholarship program.”

SofterWare will be matching the donation for a grand total of $255 going to both organizations. Ah amore!

Jan 23 16

Year-end “Gives Back-palooza” Kept Us Busy

by Sam Goldenberg

If you see someone who works for a nonprofit during the last week of the year, get out of their way! I think they’re legally allowed to run red lights that week. Why? The end of the year to a nonprofit is like what the holidays are to retailers, and tax season is to accountants. It culminates with the last day of the year, which is traditionally the biggest day for giving, especially online giving (our clients set records, so we can testify to it.)  Yes, the cynic in me says it’s inspired by tax write-offs, but as my mother would say “big whup?” Besides, the optimist in me says “I love the holidays, and it feels better to give then to receive so here you go ‘Nonprofit I Love’.” So let’s go with that!

We here at SofterWare did our part to help give back during this busy season in what I can only describe as a GivesBack-palooza!

Employees Donation & Volunteer Programs
First, 2015 ended with SofterWare employee donations equaling $5,000 that were matched by the company, and our 2016 goal is to increase that by 25%. Also, 22 employees volunteered 165 hours, and our goal is to have 45 employees volunteer 325 hours in 2016, so book us now for your next event (we work cheap.)

Holiday Gifts for Families in Need
With the holidays, comes presents, presents, presents! We figured if we were getting up at 4 am Black Friday for our kid’s Cabbage Patch dolls (I think I just dated myself), we might as well buy some presents for others who are having a tough time this year. All year long, we’ve volunteered at the Ambler YCMA, and they told us about 4 families with financial troubles. With no money for gifts, the folks at SofterWare bought 33 presents for the parents to give to their kids to help make it a joyous holiday season.

Breakfast with Santa
Speaking of the YMCA, on December 19, the SofterWare elves left their workshop to help with the “Breakfast with Santa” event.

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Thanks to elves Mike Scott, Eleanor Stasio and Joshua Gardner (they were all ears), Kathy Piunti, Terri Webb and her daughter.

Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program
The program that was the impetus for us to start our GivesBack program: Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC) provides us the ability to sends some of our state taxes to a Scholarship Organization, an Educational Improvement Organization, and/or a Pre-Kindergarten Scholarship Organization.  We donated $129,000 to nine organizations that met these requirements, including many clients and organizations that were nominated by our staff.

The year ended with two different drives:

Yearlong Food Drive
First, was our food drive for Loaves & Fishes food pantry, which was started Thanksgiving 2014 by Eleanor Stasio, Kathy Piunti, and Joshua Gardner.  It was expanded to a yearlong commitment for the simple reason that people need help all year long. The folks of SofterWare were asked to contribute non-perishable food and other items, and they responded with 1,575 pounds! While it’s somewhat embarrassing to admit my love of Chef Boyardee spaghetti and meatballs (I must be the only person out of college who still eats it on regular basis), I’m proud to say for each can I devoured, I gave one to the food drive.  Our goal for 2016 is 2,000 pounds (dare I add Chef B’s raviolis to the mix?)

Laurie Wernick and Paula Burns drop off the last boxes of food for 2015.

Laurie Wernick and Paula Burns drop off the last boxes of food for 2015.

MLK Clothing Drive
Last, but not least, we cleaned out our closets of all those clothes we couldn’t fit into anymore (darn you holiday cookies!) to donate them to the Impact Regional Collection Drive for their Martin Luther King Day of Service. We donated 10 boxes of clothes!

Boxes and boxes of clothes about to make an "Impact" on the community.

Boxes and boxes of clothes about to make an “Impact” on the community.

This was a big finish to the first full year of the SofterWare Gives Back program; our attempt to assist and recognize all the great work our staff was doing anyway – giving back to the community. It was our great privilege and honor to be able to assist. From what I heard is in the works this year, it’s only going to get bigger!   Stay tuned…

Nov 7 15

Pancreatic Cancer Race Raises Money in Memory of Our Friend

by Sam Goldenberg

When you find out someone you know is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the first things that goes through your mind are not good. The survival rate is well known to be one of the lowest among all cancers. Some famous and wealthy people, like Steve Jobs, pop into your head – people with immense resources who lost their battle, and relatively quickly. Depending on how well you know this person, your feelings range from empathy to devastation, yet through it all, there is hope. Hope that they will be the one to beat the odds, and if not, hope that their time remaining will be pain-free and filled with joy and happiness.

So it was for the family and friends of Nadine Lubarsky, our dear friend and colleague for over 19 years at SofterWare, who lost her battle this past Thursday – just over two short years since her diagnosis, and two days before the PurpleStride Philadelphia 5K Race & Walk on Saturday, November 7. This event raises money to find a cure for pancreatic cancer. For the last two years, Nadine’s family, friends and colleagues raced and walked in her honor, proud members of the Love for Nadine team. Each year, our team is one the largest groups, and raises some the biggest donations. This year, over 70 people participated on the Love for Nadine team.

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Nathan Relles, our Co-founder and President, and longtime friend of Nadine, ran the race and came in first for his age group, and Sam Stortz, who won the whole event last year, ran a minute faster this year and came in second out of everyone…not too shabby!

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Love for Nadine raised $16,602, and the entire Philly event raised $620,496. For two years, with great hope, we did it in honor of Nadine. This year, with hearts broken, we did it in memory of Nadine.

Just one day before her funeral, it was terribly sad to be sure, but it was also uplifting. It gave us a chance to be together, to do something, to try to make a difference.

As we were walking, we spoke of Nadine, how great a person she was, what a great wife, mother, sister, daughter, grandmother and friend she was. We told funny stories and we laughed. For instance, she taught me the secrets to a juicy turkey (oven bags), and she brought me a lot of leftover brisket her family wouldn’t eat (which was awesome)! We remembered her when she was well and full of life. We also remembered when she was ill, and even more full of life.

Yes, the last two years were incredibly tough for her, and emotionally tough on those who loved her, but for Nadine, these last two years were also some of her best. Her oldest daughter gave birth to her beloved grandson, and she got to experience a large part of his first year. Then she got to walk her youngest daughter down the wedding aisle, and from what I’m told, the wedding went deep into the night with dancing and laughter – a great celebration! She got to go on vacation with her family, spend time with friends, and enjoy her home at the New Jersey shore – a place she loved, with the people she loved.

Through it all, there were no big arguments, no lasting fights, no petty grievances. Instead there was finding a wedding dress and planning the celebration of a lifetime. There was buying baby clothes, preparing bottles, and watching her grandson sleep in her arms. Every day with her growing family was filled with happiness. Every meal with friends and family was cherished. Nadine had a very real understanding about what her diagnosis meant, and to her, it brought complete clarity about what was important and what was not. Bitterness, anger, stress was wasted energy. Time watching her grandson grow, her daughters find happiness that she and her husband enjoyed for more than three decades, and enjoying the company of her many friends and family, that was time well spent. She knew it, and she lived it.

We can’t know how hard these two years were for her and her family, and I’m sorry beyond words that they and Nadine had to endure it. From what I saw and what I’m told, she fought her cancer with all she had, and accepted her last days on her terms.

And from what I saw and what I’m told, I also know these last two years were filled with love, and happiness, and joy. In a way, they were Nadine’s last gift to all who knew her: understand what’s important in life, and what is not, and live accordingly. If you do, your remaining time will be the best you’ve ever had, and you’ll enjoy a life well lived. Just like Nadine.

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Our dear friend Nadine at the 2014 PurpleStride Philadelphia Race & Walk.

Nov 3 15

Boo Grams Turn Fright into Delight

by Sam Goldenberg

SofterWare’s social committee used to arrange Halloween contests every year.  But like other things in life, what is cool one year turns into a bust the next. Our contest was a popular event two years ago, and turned into a ghost town (pun intended) last year.  So this year, the committee decided to go in a different direction. Instead of everyone dressing up, they had just one ghost (in this case, one ghost costume and several volunteer ghosts), who went around delivering bags of candy or healthy treats  (I was one of the volunteers and I didn’t see any healthy treat selections!) Staff members paid $2 to get a Boo Gram delivered by the ghost to anyone in the company, which came with a personalized message.

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A terrified SofterWare staff member (Rob Trueman) receives a Boo Gram from the Ghost of SofterWare (aka Debbie Foster as she was known in a previous incarnation)

This turned out to be a big hit, with over $212 raised. Everyone who bought a Boo Gram was entered in to a drawing. The winner, Shane McMullen, got to pick which charity we’d donate the money too, with a matching contribution from SofterWare. Shane chose the Play it Forward Foundation, which is a nonprofit that one of our SofterWare staff, Jeff Pagano, helped start. Play it Forward “is a catalyst in developing a culture of generosity within the hockey community.”  The Boo Grams and matching gifts led to a $426 donation to Play it Forward, our staff got a sugar rush, and several people got frightened by the ghost or the message. All in all a huge success! Though I’m no great predictor of fads or the future,  I’m sure this will be repeated next year, only bigger! Or not.

Oct 30 15

Ambler YMCA Halloween a Spooky Good Time

by Sam Goldenberg

On Friday, October 23rd, several brave SofterWare souls ventured to the Ambler YMCA to volunteer at their annual Halloween Party.  It wasn’t the spooky costumes, creepy decorations or haunted trail outside that scared us, it was 300 kids flying in all at once wanting cake and pizza that had us terrified!

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Kathy Piunti, Julia Notwick, Paula Burns, Joshua Gardner and yours truly served 600 pieces of cake and 150 slices of pizza (our pizza count was woefully short). The kids then ran outside to trick or treat along a path of cars set up as haunted attractions, each serving candy.  There were two bounce rides, arts and crafts where kids got to make pumpkins out of paper, get their face painted, compete in costume contests, dance to a DJ playing Halloween classics, and lots of other games usually found out at the Y.  The kids had a blast, and so did the adults.

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All year long, SofterWare has been volunteering at the Amber YMCA as part of our SofterWare Gives Back outreach program. Next up is the Holiday party in December (we already ordered more pizza.)

 

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