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December 5, 2023 Community Engagement

Community Engagement Culture Builds Better Lives


As a college student stepping into the business world, I felt equally apprehensive and excited. I was thankful to have a job utilizing my marketing skills and hoped I would receive guidance in my chosen field. What I didn’t count on was being part of a company that not only has a profound, positive impact on the clients we serve, but also in the communities where we work. It’s this culture of community engagement, of doing what really matters, that hooked me, and that’s one of the main reasons why I enjoy working at A M King.

My mentor, the late Jane Boland, former A M King Marketing Director, brought out the best in me. She constantly encouraged me to be better and do better for others. She loved this quote by Winston Churchill and would share it often, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.

Community Engagement: Winston Churchill quote

Jane was the most generous woman I’d ever met and lived her life to make others feel special. She was the one who first encouraged me to really get involved at A M King and inspired me to take the lead on many of our community engagement events.

Lead By Example

A genuine desire to help others is evident at all levels of the company, beginning at the top. Every Business Unit Leader, Design Leader and Project Manager encourages their team members to participate in the many community engagement events we sponsor throughout the year. It’s kind of like the glue that holds us all together.

We are all bound by this mission to give back whenever and wherever we can. A M King even takes it a step further by providing 16 hours of additional PTO just for personal community engagement activities.

For the past six years, A M King’s senior leaders have led the charge to support Starmount Academy of Excellence, a Pre-K through fifth grade Title 1 public school in Charlotte where the majority of the school’s 443 students are economically disadvantaged and receive free and reduced lunches.

Our annual “Fill the Truck” project provides both essential supplies and school uniforms to each student at Starmount’s fall Open House.

Business Unit Leader David Sawicki inspired several of his colleagues to join him in volunteering at CLT Foundation’s (Changing Lives Together), Camp CLT. Camp CLT is a free outdoor camp at YMCA’s Camp Thunderbird specifically designed for kids with physical disabilities who are in grades five through 12.

David partnered with Gavin, a 13-year-old who suffered a life-altering injury. Despite Gavin’s disabilities, his smile was like sunshine, and he played field games, archery, went canoeing, and more.

Design Leader Catherine Knight is a member of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and has contributed to Project Pipeline. The project serves a diverse population of 6th – 12th grade students who are underrepresented in the design field. The program better prepares students for college and life beyond.

Through Project Pipeline, young people grasp the significance of architecture in their daily lives, develop skills and tools to critically and constructively contribute to their community.

As you can see, our community engagement activities have a common thread: improving the lives of young people.

Whether we’re passing out uniforms and school supplies at Starmount, volunteering at Camp Thunderbird, or connecting with kids at Project Pipeline, we’re focused on helping children with less-than-ideal circumstances.

I think John F. Kennedy said it best, “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and it’s best hope for the future.”

Our Personal Best

Community Engagement: Sarah is co-chair of the RMHC of GC's Young Professionals Society.

A M King’s focus on providing time and resources for children in need inspired me to do more related to community engagement in my personal life. Earlier this year, I assumed the role of Co-Chair of the Ronald McDonald House of Greater Charlotte Young Professionals Society, also known as, “Happy Milz.”

We’re a group of young professionals who are passionate about supporting RMHC of Greater Charlotte’s mission to embrace families of sick or injured children by providing the comfort and support of home during their greatest time of need.

Joining Happy Milz and taking on a leadership role has been the best decision I’ve made in 2023.

This group has been able to provide hot, homemade meals for families staying at Ronald McDonald House, fundraise to help provide much-needed resources for families, and witness that small things mean the most to those suffering hard times.

If not for A M King’s commitment to building a better community, I would not have sought out these personally rewarding experiences. When I talk to my coworkers, it’s clear A M King has had the same effect on them.

Caleb Cook, Project Manager, donates his time to Charlotte Mecklenburg Dream Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming Charlotte’s most undeserved neighborhoods through relationship building and physical acts of service.

Project Manager Chase Roten attended ABC Carolinas’ Trades Day earlier this year, which provides AEC education and hands-on experience for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) high school students.

Cayla Thomas, Project Engineer, volunteers with She Built This City, whose mission is to provide industry disruptive programming that sparks interest and builds pathways to lucrative careers in the skilled trades for girls and young women.

‘Tis the Season for Giving Back

Community Engagement: A M King has participated in the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program for 15 years.

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that the holiday season is my favorite time of year. I’m the kind of person who starts listening to Christmas music on November 1.

There’s one thing that makes Christmas such a special time for me: the traditions I’ve built with my family, my friends, and my team at A M King.

My all-time favorite A M King community engagement event is the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program. This event brings me the greatest joy of all.

It all started in 2009 when our company’s founder, Brian King, decided to adopt 10 disadvantaged children (referred to as “angels” by the Salvation Army). Since then, each holiday season our Charlotte and Greenville employees regularly adopt more than 150 angels from their local communities.

Each A M King employee is allowed to choose between three and five angels and receives $200/per angel from the company to spend on clothing and toys. Each team makes a point to make it a special day.

Our Marketing + Sales team grabs lunch to fuel up before the shopping spree begins and then spends the entire day looking for coats to keep little boys or girls warm, clothes and shoes they can wear to school, and the perfect toys from Santa to put under their trees.

Year after year I wish I could be a fly on the wall as my angels open their gifts on Christmas morning. I can’t even begin to fathom the struggle they and their families go through on a daily basis, but I’m extremely thankful that A M King gives us the opportunity to lighten that load during the most wonderful time of the year.


This time of year, more than ever, I remind myself how fortunate we are to work for a company that is so purpose-driven when it comes to giving back to our community — to those who need it most.

Building better lives through community engagement is the silver lining in a hard day’s work, the connection I crave with my colleagues, and the gift that I didn’t even know I wanted but love best of all.

Sarah Smith
Sarah Smith
Sarah Smith is a dedicated Marketing Manager at A M King, driven by a passion for sharing the company's mission and Design-Build expertise through digital media. She serves on A M King’s social and community engagement committees during her work hours and, in her personal time, co-chairs the Ronald McDonald House of Greater Charlotte's Young Professionals Society while also contributing to RMHC of GC's Development Committee.
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