It’s easy to find good citizens in a community like McKinney. They’re everywhere: people who volunteer, people who gladly share what they have, and people who work tirelessly to see that neighborhoods, civic organizations and schools are the best they can be.
Unless you’re directly familiar with a corporation’s endeavors, however, sometimes it’s a little harder to see the good deeds that local companies do for the community.
While companies benefit the city by providing jobs, services and paying taxes, companies connect with the community through their owners and employees. The benevolent actions they take are often strong and impactful. McKinney is fortunate to have a great many companies like this – just a few of which are highlighted below.
“Catch Tank,” a portable fishing pond that can be assembled for hours of catch and release fishing, to Eldorado Motors
Eldorado Motors, at 2300 N. Central Expressway, has been in McKinney for two decades and is one of the oldest auto dealerships in the city.
Specializing in sales of Chevrolet and Mazda, the dealership’s attention to care for the community starts in a physical way: Eldorado Motors was designed using a smartscape concept, which includes greenery that is well-suited for our area. Its Buffalo Grass, for example, needs mowing only six to 10 times annually (compared to as many as 36 times for other grasses) and it requires less water and fertilizer. The company uses special heads in its irrigation system to ensure water goes to the green areas, rather than on concrete or the auto inventory.
Eldorado Motors has also undertaken a major recycling program that aims to reduce its solid waste disposal by 35 percent this year. It also has a center that allows members of the public to recycle car items (batteries, etc.) that are normally hard to dispose of.
In addition to partnering with Mazda’s worldwide wildlife conservation program, it is involved locally with the Boy Scouts (particularly McKinney Troop 531) and returning U.S. veterans. Eldorado Motors has a deep respect for soldiers who have served the nation and goes out of its way to provide them with specialized customer assistance and offer the best price on cars. Joe Gibbs, Director of Operations at Eldorado Motors, says: “Vets can rest assured they are treated with the best care that is second to none anywhere!”
Eldorado Motors holds community-focused events several times a year, inviting customers and the public to participate and enjoy. The latest event was its recent “Kidfish” on Oct. 13, which welcomed McKinney residents – children especially – for a day of fun, games, snacks and fishing. The KIDFISH Foundation is a non-profit youth outreach program dedicated to educating a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts. The foundation brought a “Catch Tank,” a portable fishing pond that can be assembled for hours of catch and release fishing, to Eldorado Motors, and stocked it with adult channel catfish. “We love hosting the event for the community,” says Jo Bailey, a Customer Service specialist with the company. “It’s a thrill to see how excited the kids are to visit!”
For more information: eldoradochevy.com
Jim Collins – El Chico Café
Sometimes, as we’ve just read, corporate citizenship comes from a collection of people or departments within a company. Other times it’s driven by one individual, a business owner who is dedicated to giving back to the community. A noteworthy example in McKinney is Jim Collins, owner of El Chico Café at 1222 N. Central Expressway.
I saw firsthand Collins’ gregariousness and friendly manner, and it was easy to understand why so many civic and business groups feel comfortable holding meetings, dinners, and ceremonies at El Chico. Collins makes each group feel valued and he, in turn, shows his genuine appreciation for them by providing a warm, welcoming facility.
Throughout the year, numerous groups benefit from El Chico’s hospitality, from McKinney ISD teachers who enjoy appreciation luncheons at the restaurant to business groups, civic organizations and nonprofits.
Such warm hospitality is a tradition Collins implemented more than two decades ago. El Chico has been owned and managed by Collins in the same location for 25 years. In fact, on a day I visited the restaurant, several people walked over to say hello to Collins, including a patron who said she’s been eating at El Chico – and cherishing her friendship with its owner – several times a week for nearly that entire span of time.
The restaurant, under Collins’ leadership, is host to several annual events. Every year, for example, El Chico sponsors the Boys and Girls Club Holiday Dinner. As many as 300 children, along with some parents, attend and receive a hot meal, gifts from local merchants, a visit from Santa, and other holiday festivities. Collins’ interest in assisting the Boys and Girls Club began in the early 1990s when he served on its board and then as finance chair (a six-year stint).
Another case in point: Collins provides the location and dinner for the McKinney Food Pantry’s annual awards ceremony. “It’s the least I can do,” Collins says modestly, “for a group that works so hard for the community. Those people – and their leadership – are remarkable.”
... Just like Collins himself.
For more information: elchicomckinney.com
One of the best examples of a large corporation that gives back to the community is Torchmark, and McKinney is fortunate that Torchmark calls it home. Torchmark works closely with North Collin County Habitat for Humanity and has been involved in several construction projects.
Nearly all businesses and organizations have mission and value statements – the guiding principles by which a company is run, representing the beliefs a company holds. Torchmark models its actions on three value statements, one of which is this: “We strive to have a positive effect within the communities we serve.”
“Giving back is one of the things we’ve always believed in, and it’s a core value behind everything we do,” says Judy Hans, Vice President of Marketing.
Torchmark gives cash and financial gifts to charitable causes in McKinney and surrounding areas, and it also donates goods, publicity and pure physical manpower. It has its own arm for giving, the Torchmark Benevolent Foundation, which supports nonprofit organizations that benefit local communities in which Torchmark works.
Its influence can be found throughout McKinney, and it began immediately when the company located here in 2006. Its newest project, for example, is a scholarship program that benefits four graduating high school seniors in McKinney with $1,000 each.
One of Torchmark’s primary local partnerships is with the Samaritan Inn, Collin County’s famed support program for the homeless. Torchmark employees contribute labor and resources to the Samaritan Inn, sometimes for one-time projects and other times for ongoing work. Torchmark holds numerous silent auctions to raise money for the Inn, and each business quarter its Sales Administration team holds a donation. During the First Quarter auction, for example, more than $1,500 was raised in cash, goods and gift cards.
Last May, Torchmark held its annual “Welcome Summer” cookout at the Samaritan Inn, raising $15,000 in support of children living at the Inn. These proceeds were used for a variety of summer activities, including soccer camps, swimming, art lessons, cheerleading, and uniforms/equipment.
Torchmark also works closely with North Collin County Habitat for Humanity and has been involved in several construction projects, encouraging employees to get actively involved in the building of Habitat homes. Torchmark’s employees are, of course, the heart and soul of the company’s many assistance programs. “I may not always be able to give monetarily, but I can always give my time and helping hands,” says employee Toni Thompson.
This attitude and energy have made Torchmark known in McKinney for its exceptional contributions to the community.
For more information: torchmarkcorp.com
About the author: Christopher Foster is a McKinney-based writer and photographer.