M&T Bank donates $500 for Work Builders Block Party!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 2nd March 2011

Probably the biggest challenge I have found in helping Ryan orchestrate his Work Builders Block Party the last two years has been to find a way to pay for it. After funding the first event (2009) entirely out of pocket and seeing the second year’s event grow in size almost twofold, it was obvious that something would need to change in order to make this whole idea viable in the future.

Thanks to one of Ryan’s chosen charities being open to working with us on this, for the 2010 event we were able to solicit donations (to SOS Shelter) which are earmarked for the costs we incur. Excess funds stay with the charity for their benefit. However, this alone did not mean funding was a done deal! No. What followed was a lot of time and effort spent reaching out to anyone who would listen (and some who probably preferred not to) to find donors. It was a tougher job than I would have guessed going in.

When all was said and done for last year’s Block Party, I was able to generate enough donations to cover our costs, barely. Maybe I was naive, but I thought I could have managed triple that.

Pictured left to right: Cindy Armstrong - Mortgage Originator M&T Bank, Glenn Small - Regional President M&T Bank, Ryan Steadman - CEO Work Builders, Deby Drave SOS Shelter Board President, Carrie Hyde SOS Shelter Manager, Leia O'Connell SOS Shelter Administrative Manager

Then a bit after the new year I got a call from Cindy Armstrong, a Mortgage Originator at M&T Bank and summertime golfing friend. Last fall I had approached her as well as many others trying to generate some donations. At that time she told me it would have to be considered by other decision makers within the bank and they would let me know. I heard that a lot I have to tell you. But here she was a few months later letting me know.

The news was good! They had decided to make a donation of $500 in support of Ryan’s Work Builders Block Party! Wow! What a great way to get things kicked off for 2011! A week or so later Ryan was invited to meet with Cindy and Mr. Glenn Small at SOS Shelter offices to accept their generous donation.

So after school on that day I took Ryan to the SOS Shelter offices to meet our friends from M&T Bank. We were greeted by a variety of people from SOS Shelter pictured above. They had a lot of the donated Easy Builder building block sets on hand to show our donors what it was all about, toys for kids in need.

Ryan could not resist showing everyone exactly what his block sets are made for, PLAY!

Soon Cindy Armstrong arrived and shortly there after Mr. Glenn Small arrived as well. Mr. Small is a Regional President for M&T Bank. They had lots of questions for Ryan about what he has been doing, where the idea came from and how it makes him feel. I think Ryan did a good job talking with them and answering their questions. He let them know how we appreciate their donation as well!

We would like to send a very big thank you off to Mr. Small, Cindy and all the others at M&T Bank for their donation and support! I hope others will see their support and decide to help us as well. We are hoping to make the 2011 event even better and this kind of help will go a long way toward helping us reach that goal!

2Mar

Ryan makes his donation to SOS Shelter!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 21st December 2010

Ryan at SOS Shelter offices

Ryan makes his donation to SOS Shelter Inc.

Last night Ryan visited the executive offices of SOS Shelter and donated 65 sets of his Easy Builder building blocks for their use. Ryan was greeted by five members of the SOS Shelter board and staff. It was a happy visit and fun for Ryan to complete his goals of distributing toys for the holidays again this year.

These 65 sets of building blocks were the result of Ryan’s second Work Builders Block Party and the help of 175 volunteers who attended this year. Roughly two weeks ago Ryan also donated a similar number of building block sets to Toys for Tots. His donation to Toys for Tots happened at his elementary school with all of his second grade classmates there to see.

If you would like to support Ryan’s efforts to help charity, your tax deductible donations will support the Work Builders Block Party! Get all the info here!

21Dec

This 7yr old CEO inspired a volunteer project for charity and gives 50% of his business earnings to United Way!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 30th November 2010

Ryan Steadman sitting surrounded by building blocks!

Ryan Steadman surrounded by some of 1,800 kids building blocks made at his Work Builders Block Party 2010. All of these children's building block toys, in sets of 12, are donated to charity.

One year ago at just six years of age, Ryan Steadman started his own business, promised to share 50% of his earnings with charity and inspired a community charity project attended by over 100 volunteers! This year at seven years old he has done it again, his second Work Builders Block Party.

It would be hard not to be proud of any son who takes such initiative to help others much less one doing so at 6 or 7 years of age. He has remained true to all his pledges giving half of his earnings to United Way and finding ways to give to other charities as well. His second Work Builders Block Party charity event, which happened just two weeks ago, out performed the first with greater attendance (175) and more building blocks for charity (1,800).

So, what is next for this pint sized entrepreneur? Well, second grade. I can tell you that he has not lost any interest in his Work Builders business or helping charity. And the Work Builders Block Party? He has every intention of doing another one next year and making it bigger!

30Nov

Piecing together the puzzle of a Block Party.

Posted by Ryans Dad on 8th October 2010

We’re off to a great start towards pulling off the Work Builders Block Party again this year. But there is one more piece to this puzzle I am anxious to put together. How do we pay for it all?

100 dollar bill puzzleThe first Block Party was a whirlwind that happened over a span of two weeks time from concept to event date! I didn’t have time to worry about how the costs were getting covered. I was focused on making it happen and happen it did. This year promises to be as big or bigger and the costs will grow accordingly.

So how do we pay for it? Soliciting donations seems like a reasonable idea. The effort is all for charity after all. But, Work Builders is not a non-profit and anyone asked to contribute will want to know their donation can be a tax deduction in the spring. It only makes sense.

So I started asking a few questions earlier this summer. I asked people who know more than I, “How do you become a non-profit?”. The answers were not encouraging. My take after numerous conversations is that it would take a lot of work and significant costs to make it happen. It seemed prohibitive.

Then I happened to spend 5 minutes talking with the right person and everything changed! There may be a way. Anyone who works extensively with non-profit organizations would probably know this but it was a revelation for me. If we work closely with one of the non-profits we plan to support, we can solicit donations (to that organization) which are held for our use! Wow!

There are deeper details to the whole thing but the net result is that it opens the door for two great things to happen. First, we can generate funds which will pay the costs of our event. And second, we may be able to generate greater funds which can benefit our charity in an even larger way! As they say, it’s a WIN-WIN!

So, we are trying to put this relationship together and keeping our fingers crossed that this will work. If it does I am sure you will be hearing about it.

If you would consider helping us with a contribution (or know someone we should contact) please contact us here! As soon as we have a solid plan for making that happen we will be in touch. Even small contributions will help a lot. I hope you will consider it.

8Oct

Work Builders Block Party 2010, here we go again!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 2nd October 2010
Volunteers filled the room at the Work Builders Block Party 2009!

Volunteers filled the room at the
Work Builders Block Party 2009!

During the Work Builders Block Party of 2009 Ryan came to me at one point and said, “Daddy, I want to do this again next week!” Well, we didn’t do it the following week, but we ARE doing it again in the following year.

Announcing the Work Builders Block Party 2010!

The Work Builders Block Party is a community volunteer project and YOU are invited. Our project is to make as many sets of Easy Builder building blocks as we can in one day. Then ALL of them are donated to local charity.

Once again this year Ryan has decided to support Toys for Tots and SOS Shelter with the building block sets we make. Last year we were able to donate 51 sets of kids building blocks to each of those charity organizations. This year we hope to do even more with your help.

Here are the details:

What: Work Builders Block Party
Where: Binghamton University, Fine Arts Building, room FA212
When: Sunday November 14, 2010 10am-3pm
Who: EVERYONE is welcome!
How: You can sign up online RIGHT NOW!

We hope you will come and help us make some happy holidays for children who need it. Come when you can, you don’t have to be there start to finish. If you can make it for an hour or a few hours we will be glad to have your help!

I hope we will see you there! Mark your calendar for Sunday November 14!

2Oct

Ryan’s donation to Toys for Tots, finally!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 18th December 2009
Ryan Steadman and Marine LCpl Danbach

Ryan Steadman and Marine LCpl Danbach

Delayed a bit by some uncooperative weather, Ryan was able to make his second donation of Easy Builder building blocks this week. This donation was to Toys for Tots and was great fun. Toys for Tots representative Marine LCpl Danbach came to Ryan’s 1st grade classroom at Vestal Hills Elementary School, in dress blue uniform no less!

Ryan had a total of 51 complete sets of his building blocks on hand to give to Toys for Tots. In addition to that, his 1st grade teacher Mrs. Finch and the class added some more toys to the donation. The class has been following Ryan’s efforts to support charity and his teacher has used this to help teach about leadership and charitable giving. It’s been great to see Mrs. Finch and her class be so supportive, thank you! The school even added some photos from the day to their web site for all to see.

News 10 Now and WBNG News crews, on hand to capture the event

News 10 Now and WBNG News crews, on hand to capture the event

The school district had contacted local media about the donation so there was also some TV coverage of the event. This added a certain degree of excitement for the class on top of the Marine in uniform. Our cable news channel News 10 Now did a very nice story about the donation that Ryan made which you can view online from their web site.

The 1st grade class enjoyed the visit from LCpl Danbach thoroughly and they all behaved very well throughout. LCpl Danbach took time to talk with the class answering questions about Toys for Tots as well as a few about his experience in the Marines. I have to say he was quite skilled at addressing their inquiries carefully regardless of the nature of each question. It was evident this was not his first experience with kids.

The kids had some time to check out the building block sets as did LCpl Danbach. Then the TV reporters did some interviews with Ryan, LCpl Danbach and myself. Most importantly, Ryan got to make one more donation of his building block sets which made him very happy. With a smile, Ryan mentioned that it was a fun thing to know that on Christmas morning some kids somewhere would be opening a present that he had made. Then they would play with them and have fun. A nice thought indeed.

18Dec

Could Ryan’s good idea spawn others?

Posted by Ryans Dad on 1st December 2009

Spray paint productionDuring the course of the Work Builders Block Party I had the opportunity to meet and speak with so many people I would not have otherwise ever met. There were lots of interesting people in attendance from many different demographics.

One of these people presented what sounded to me like a great idea as he viewed our volunteer project from his own perspective. I wish I had made note of his name to give him proper credit but unfortunately I did not. The person I am speaking of is a Binghamton University student who mentioned that home for him is in Brooklyn, NY. This young man took a moment to tell me how impressed he was with our charity project and that he was enjoying being there with us very much.

We were talking outside where the spray painting was going on as he was spray painting a set of blocks he had just finished sanding. I commented that at the days start I was concerned with the idea of bringing spray paint onto University property and had hoped that we would not somehow wind up responsible for graffiti on school property. The last thing I wanted to see happen was to be the catalyst for mischief. Thankfully, no such mischief happened.

Then he came up with an interesting idea. Mentioning how it was fun to see all these people using the spray paint for a good cause, he thought of all the graffiti artists and “taggers” in the areas surrounding his hometown. He said, “Wouldn’t it be great to invite all of those people to get together and use their spray paint for something positive like this!” Cool idea! As he thought of it more he seemed to think that would be pretty great.

It struck me how Ryan’s great idea was now generating a new idea from this enthusiastic BU student. I can not guess whether this student will ever try to follow through with that idea or not, but just knowing that Ryan’s idea might lead to others was a cool feeling.

Graffiti for Good… Somebody run with that!

1Dec

Work Builders Block Party was a great success!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 23rd November 2009
A great day for Ryan and his charities!

A great day for Ryan and his charities!

What a great day it was for our family! On Saturday (Nov. 21) we held Ryan’s Work Builders Block Party and everything went great. We had over 100 people attend and help with our project. By days end we finished over 1,200 building blocks which would fill out more than 100 complete sets of Easy Builder building blocks for charity!

We are so grateful to Binghamton University for providing a place for our event to be held and to the Binghamton Circle K student volunteer organization in particular, who supported our effort as university sponsors for the event. Without Circle K’s sponsorship we would not have been able to hold the event on BU campus.

Many-studentsThe room was bustling with activity all day long and the energy was great. We had volunteers helping out from all age groups and all backgrounds. There were many Binghamton University students, Vestal Elementary School students and parents, Cub Scout members, professional colleagues, family friends and many others who heard about the event and made the time in their schedules to come and help.

Ryan was so energized that it was all we could do to get him to take a moment to eat a sandwich. He was busy showing people how to do the painting then took over moving hundreds of blocks to and from the outdoor painting area.

Collin hands out stickers!

Collin hands out stickers!

His younger brother Collin spent the entire day greeting everyone who attended, giving them stickers and big smiles. If you were here on Saturday it is a good bet Collin “stickered” you before you left.

Over the next few days or week perhaps, we will be packaging all of the 1,200+ building blocks into the Easy Builders cloth bags in preparation for donation to Toys for Tots and SOS Shelter. I have been in touch with both of these charities and they are thrilled and look forward to our donations. Doing that will be great fun and I am looking forward to seeing the look on Ryan’s face when he gives them his building block sets. It is what he has been working towards all along.

There are so many people to thank for helping to make Ryan’s vision become a reality it is hard to know where to begin. But here are a few I would like to mention in hopes I am not leaving anyone out.

At some point of the day during the Work Builders Block Party on Saturday Ryan came to me quite happy and said, “Daddy, I want to do this again… next week!” Well, we can’t quite manage something like that, but maybe again next year, who knows.

23Nov

Work Builders Block Party, YOU are invited!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 12th November 2009

Early on in the process of building his start-up business, Ryan told us that he wishes to support charity and he has remained steadfast in that mission ever since. Since then he has identified three charities to support in various ways, two of which he wishes to support by making a direct donation of his building blocks.

After contacting these charity organizations to learn if they will accept hand-made toys and if so how many, we learned that the answer to those questions in both cases Work Builders Block Party bannerwas a solid yes and “as many as you can provide”. This begged the question, “How many can we provide?”

Between the two of us we had an idea of what we could produce but we wondered if there might be a way to do more. So we talked and brainstormed together to try and figure out how we could make more, lots more. The result of that brainstorming is our “Work Builders Block Party”, and YOU are invited!

The Work Builders Block Party will take place on Saturday November 21, just over one week from now! This will be a volunteer effort to make as many sets of Easy Builder building blocks as we can in one day. Everything produced on that day will go directly to charity! So mark you calendar for November 21 and please plan to come. We need all the help we can get!

Between now and that date I will be cutting at least 500 wood blocks to have on hand for the project. The task for the day will be to sand the sharp/frayed edges so children will not get slivers and to spray paint them different colors that kids will enjoy. It is an easy task really, so bring a friend and spend a little time with us helping charity.

Our plan on Saturday Nov. 21 is to have a large window of time where you are invited to come and participate. You are welcome and encouraged to come for as much time as you can share whether that is 20 minutes or 3 hours. The final details of location and exact hours for the project are being finalized currently and I hope to have all of that information available to you very soon.

A lot of people have expressed interest in helping Ryan and I along with this project for charity. Now is the time so please plan to come to our Block Party, help us make some building blocks to go to kids this holiday season!

If you are planning to help us on Nov. 21st please drop us a note via email and let us know you are coming. If you have a group that might be interested in getting involved then please let us know as soon as possible. We’d love to have you there with us!

If the turnout seems good I may have to cut more blocks for the day. That would be a great problem to have! So continue to watch this blog and Ryan’s Web site for more details as our plans are finalized.

One other way someone may be able to help…

If you know of anyone who might be in a position to help with providing materials for this growing charity project, I would be grateful for help of that nature. As the scale of this seems to be growing so too does that side of the equation. The spray paint and the sanding tools (sanding blocks, sand paper) are the greatest expected expense. Please email me if you have any leads in this regard. Thank you!

12Nov