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Her altruism just keeps going and going…

Written by by Tom Konz, PhD. Posted in April

Shelly Konz once received a stuffed Energizer Bunny as a gift. The gift has symbolic meaning if not a blatant representation of the voltaic vigor she extends to her philanthropic endeavors and life in general.

 

Shelly quotes Kahlil Gibran to describe her philosophy of giving: “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” Shelly is truly the embodiment of Gibran’s example. “Some people can write checks to help; I can’t so I give the way I can,” she says.

As an account manager for Cousino Restoration, such philanthropic efforts include partnering with Levis Commons for the annual Play it Forward toy drive. The drive itself requires a great deal of organization. There’s the bringing in of semi trailers, event setup, and collection of toys, often in inclement winter weather, starting early in the morning and continuing throughout the afternoon. That’s just the beginning. Next, Shelly recruits volunteers to clean and sanitize the toys at the Cousino Restoration warehouse. With multiple truckloads, this is no small task, necessitating long days over many weekends. Then there’s the distribution!

You get the picture. If not, look at the video from Toledo’s major television stations whose journalists literally had to stand in line for their turn to interview Shelly about the colossal toy drive.

Did I mention Shelly has Parkinson’s disease? The bunny with the bass drum keeps on going! Toward finding a cure, her fundraising efforts in the Parkinson’s community contributed to the culmination of a decade-long dream—a freestanding PD Center on the campus of the University of Toledo Medical Center, the Gardiner-McMaster Parkinson’s Center.

Instead of fretting over a life-altering diagnosis, Shelly chooses to “be your own advocate, learn about the disease, volunteer for clinical trials.” Shelly has done several. “Hey, it may be too late to help me, but it may help others,” she says.

In addition to her GMPC efforts, Shelly has volunteered for the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s Center.

Shelly’s long list of charitable contributions goes back to reading to the children of migrant workers, where she would take her two-legged turtle as an icebreaker for the kids. The list of beneficiaries of her selflessness grew exponentially over the time. For her hard work, dedication, and service to the community, Shelly has received the Extra Mile Award from the Red Cross of Northwest Ohio for chairing hugely successful Black &White with a Slash of Red fundraisers. As a board member of the Wood County Red Cross, Shelly also has a long list of contributions to Fire and Ice events in Bowling Green, Ohio.

The beat goes on with a list of charities that have benefited by association with Shelly, including Honor Flight; Beach House; Hannah’s Socks; Toledo Food Bank; Toledo-Lucas County Library “Read for Literacy”; Little Sisters of the Poor; Used coat drive—men’s coats going to Cherry Street Mission, women’s to Sparrows Nest and Beach House, and kids’ coats to Aurora House; many golf outings; and the Humane Society to name a few.

That kind of altruism meshed well within her professional life where, at Cousino Restoration, Shelly’s goals have been to foster an environment for caring and giving, a culture of humanitarianism linked to best business practices.

Because of the support she receives from CR, Shelly has found many ways to encourage others to give. For example, for one Cousino-sponsored event, many colleagues are not permitted by their companies to accept free admission so, instead, she had them each bring something to be distributed to the needy. Even at the company’s holiday open-house, Shelly asked for attendees to bring something to help charities. This culture has spawned interests in others within the organization to follow suit in finding creative ways to be charitable.

Such a culture is infectious. Shelly’s driving principles have not gone unnoticed by business associates. So much so that many have recruited her to their governing boards. Shelly now serves as president of the Facilities Healthcare and Engineers Association (FHEA). She is also a former member of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and the Toledo Home Builders association, for which she won the President’s Award as well as many sales and marketing awards. In addition, Shelly has provided leadership as president of Toledo Apartment Council. It is no wonder that the bunny in sunglasses is a nominee for the Jefferson Award.

Some people find inspiration from inside the walls of churches, others in nature. Ask Shelly where she finds her incentive, and she’ll simply and humbly tell you, “I don’t know.” As it is the Energizer Bunny’s nature to indefatigably keep going, to keep going and giving is Shelly’s nature. It’s what they do.❦

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