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February 02, 2010

Industry with Heart

ACN Putting Families First

by J.M. Emmert

Telecommunications Giant Commits $1.3 Million to Ronald McDonald House Charities

For ACN, family is the No. 1 priority. The global telecommunications giant firmly believes that each and every one of its independent representatives is part of its family, and each and every one of their customers is part of its even larger family.

So when the company chose to expand its charitable efforts to an organization that defines the importance of family, it knew it had hit a home run.

“In our industry, we can all agree that the only way for us as companies to be successful is to help our independent representatives build their own successful companies within our companies,” says Greg Provenzano, Co-Founder and President of ACN. “In fact, I believe this is what truly sets our industry apart. But at ACN, it’s not just about the lives we can change in business; it’s about the lives we can change, period.”

Those lives include the families of seriously ill and injured children who must travel far from home to receive medical attention. In 2008, ACN began supporting Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Inc., which for the past 35 years has provided accommodations for the families of children undergoing treatment. Today, ACN and its hundreds of thousands of independent representatives are offering much-needed financial and emotional support to RMHC’s worldwide initiatives, and specifically, to the RMH of Charlotte, a local chapter slated to open in 2010.

A Founding Ideal

Seventeen years ago, the entrepreneurial team of Greg Provenzano, Robert Stevanovski, Mike Cupisz and Tony Cupisz launched what is today the largest direct selling telecommunications and home services company in the world. Now operating in more than 20 countries throughout North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, the company provides a full-scale product portfolio that includes video phone technology, digital phone service, wireless, local/long-distance and Internet services, home security, and satellite TV.

ACN’s Global Giving Program

Since it was founded in 1993, ACN has donated to organizations around the world. The company hosts several International Training Events yearly, during which contributions from thousands of generous ACN representatives and employees are collected and then matched by the corporate executives dollar for dollar. Causes that have been supported by ACN include:

  • Ronald McDonald House Charities, Worldwide
  • Project Cuddle, Anaheim, Calif.
  • Children’s International Summer Village, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • American Heart Association, Anaheim, Calif.
  • Peace Brigades International, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Detroit, Mich.
  • Long Beach Fire Department, Long Beach, Calif.
  • SWIFT Charities, Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Self-Help for the Elderly, San Jose, Calif.
  • The Christmas Box House, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Heifer International, Little Rock, Ark.
  • Variety, The Children’s Charity, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • The Red Cross—Hurricane Katrina Relief
  • UNICEF—Tsunami Relief Efforts
  • Giving Back Foundation, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Help for the Children of Chernobyl, Berlin, Germany
  • Relief for Mothers, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • SOS Mamans Bébé, Nice, France
  • Bethanien Children’s Villages, Cologne, Germany
  • Stichting Sam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  • Ajuda de Berço, Lisbon, Portugal
  • Variety, The Children’s Charity, Sydney, Australia
  • SUCCESS Foundation®, Lake Dallas, Texas

For more information on ACN, go to www.acninc.com.

ACN has provided individuals around the world with a home-based business opportunity marketing these products and services—a business ownership opportunity with lucrative personal and financial rewards. It has also provided its independent representatives with the ideal that “working together, we can truly make a difference.” That belief has not only reaped dividends on the business end, but also in the spirit of giving that has symbolized ACN since its inception.

ACN Donation Check

Throughout its history, ACN has had a tradition of giving back to the community. Its Charitable Community Giving Program has donated to organizations that support such important causes as child welfare, domestic violence and substance-abuse rehabilitation.

At a corporate level, ACN’s history reflects a giving spirit in the communities it has lived and worked in, as well as those it visits during its International Training Events. The company has supported international relief efforts through UNICEF as well as domestic charities such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the American Heart Association.

When ACN consolidated all its U.S. operations in Concord, N.C., a suburb of Charlotte, the company reached out to local charities, such as the Boys and Girls Club of Cabarrus County, Youth Homes Inc., the Cabarrus Literacy Council, Boy Scouts of America, the Cabarrus Arts Council, the Charlotte Firefighters Association and several local schools.

When outreach efforts discovered that a Ronald McDonald House would be coming to Charlotte, the company offered its support to Ronald McDonald House Charities.

“RMHC is thrilled with the relationship with ACN,” says Greg Borkowski, Development Manager for Ronald McDonald House Charities Inc. “Their corporate focus on philanthropy starts with the company’s founders and is emphasized at every level. The impact of its generosity has been significant: RMHC chapters on three continents—North America, Europe and Australia—have benefitted from the partnership.”

According to Provenzano, RMHC was a perfect choice for ACN because of its global reach and outstanding commitment to children and their families. Raising money for the charity will be the main focus of the company’s International Training Events, which are held around the world.

“Giving back to the community is an important hallmark of ACN, one of our founding ideals, and we simply couldn’t think of a better organization to focus those efforts on than Ronald McDonald House Charities,” Provenzano says.

The Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte, scheduled to open in 2010, will feature 35,000 square feet of living space, complete with 28 bedrooms, a family kitchen, great room, learning center and playground.

Contribution to Community

Since the first Ronald McDonald House opened in Philadelphia in 1974, local chapters have been established in 52 countries. Of the major cities in the United States, only Charlotte, N.C., was without a chapter. ACN saw an opportunity to help make the dream of bringing a chapter to Charlotte a reality.

In June 2009, the company announced its support of the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte. At its International Training Event in Charlotte that month, independent representatives gave $124,870 to the charity. Guest speaker Donald Trump also contributed, graciously donating $10,000.

“While significant progress has been made, it’s still an uphill battle,” Provenzano says. “Therefore, ACN has committed to donating $1.3 million over the next five years, providing substantial progress toward the RMH of Charlotte’s funding goals and allowing the charity to keep pace with its primary construction targets.”

The RMH of Charlotte is scheduled to open in late 2010 and will serve the families of children being treated at Levine Children’s Hospital and Hemby Children’s Hospital. Located on the 1600 block of East Morehead Street on land donated by the Carolinas Medical Center, the RMH will feature approximately 35,000 square feet of living space, complete with 28 bedrooms (one family per bedroom/suite), providing more than 10,000 nights for the families. It is also scheduled to have a community kitchen, great room, learning center, playground and sitting porch.

Mona Johnson

“They just have a huge heart.”
    —Mona Johnson-Gibson, Executive Director, RMH of Charlotte

The cost of building and operating the facility will be borne primarily by individual and corporate donations. According to Mona Johnson-Gibson, Executive Director of the RMH of Charlotte, the initial campaign goal is $9 million, with $5.5 million slated for construction costs alone. “When ACN gave us a pledge of $1.3 million, that put us up to a threshold we needed to go ahead and start building. We’re trying to make a $9 million goal because we want to have two years of operations and maintenance, and we also need money to outfit the house—to actually furnish it and get it ready to let families come in.”

What has impressed Johnson-Gibson most about ACN’s commitment is the personal investment of the company’s employees. “It’s exciting to finally be bringing a Ronald McDonald House to Charlotte, and to have a company like ACN get involved to help make that a reality. But it’s not only that they are very generous financially; the whole company has really been very supportive of us. We have a lot of volunteers helping us out who come from ACN headquarters. They just have a huge heart.”

It’s that spirit of giving back to the community that Provenzano says helps his company live up to the ideal he and his co-founders set so long ago.

“While at ACN we are certainly changing lives, we can’t begin to imagine the lives that are changed inside Ronald McDonald Houses around the world every day,” Provenzano says. “Providing shelter, warmth and basic necessities for these families as they take on the battles of their lives is so much bigger than us, bigger than business, and to be just one small part of that is an absolute honor and privilege for us. We believe that, just like success, healing is also measured one step at a time, and if we can pay it forward to just one individual, then our efforts have been more than worthwhile.”

Changing Lives Within

ACN’s decision in 2008 to support Ronald McDonald House Charities exclusively was just an extension of its mission. Since it first began hosting International Training Events, the company has selected a local charity in each city, collecting donations throughout the weekend from its representatives and then matching those donations dollar for dollar.

“It’s a staple at every event, a permanent part of our culture, and our representatives absolutely love the portion of the weekend when we present a check to the charity,” Provenzano says. “It’s amazing to watch a room full of thousands put their own personal needs aside and give so much of themselves.”

When representatives realized that the company could do so much more good if it focused its efforts globally on one organization, the decision to support RMHC was accepted with much enthusiasm.
“Our representatives were thrilled with this decision and have supported us 100 percent,” Provenzano says. “Family is the No. 1 priority for us as a company. We’ve heard incredible stories of how the money we’ve raised has impacted the lives of so many families, and we absolutely give so much of that credit to our representatives. They dig deep at every event, and I am constantly amazed at their generosity.”

Provenzano also shares that at every event he hears stories about how one of the company’s representatives has been personally impacted by the good RMHC does.

“Unfortunately, tragedy often hits closest to home,” he says. “But even when these families are in their darkest hours, they find hope because of this organization. We love hearing these stories—especially the ones with happy endings—as it reminds us that we truly can change lives, one dollar at a time.”

Continuing Support

In October, ACN strengthened its commitment to RMHC by signing on as the title sponsor of the NFL Alumni-Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte Invitational Charity Golf Classic. The event, presented in conjunction with the National Football League Alumni–Carolinas Chapter, hosted 43 teams, each consisting of four amateurs and one NFL alumni player.

“As the title sponsor, ACN brought a tremendous amount of credibility to the event,” says Jack Sullivan, Tournament Director for the Classic. “Their participation helped take the event to another level.”
Proceeds from the golf tournament and Las Vegas Night Party, which was held the night before the event, was well in excess of $65,000.

While ACN will continue to raise funds for RMHC through its International Training Events and sponsorship of the Golf Classic in 2010, Provenzano sees a long-term partnership with the charity that will ensure families have a home away from home while they cope with the serious health issues facing their children.

“Even with over $500,000 in donations already collected, our support of RMHC is only just beginning,” Provenzano says. “Sadly, there will always be sick children, so there will always be a need for the Ronald McDonald House Charities. It is our hope that ACN will always be standing in the wings waiting to help in our own small way.”

Additional help in the future may come from the company’s innovative ACN VideoPhone. The revolutionary technology, which allows consumers to communicate face to face from the comfort of their homes, is being developed for use by the charity.

“Imagine seeing the person you are talking to with every phone call,” Provenzano says. “Now imagine if you had a sick child and were hundreds of miles away from home, from family, from anything familiar to you. Imagine being able to pick up a phone and be right in your own living room. That is our hope for the future of all Ronald McDonald Houses—that we can equip these facilities with our video phone and bring families a little closer to home when they’ve never felt farther away.”