Capital Advantage Gives Locally (Contra Costa County EHSD Public Information Office) — by Jackie Johnston

John Hayman is the owner of Capital Advantage, Inc., retirement planning and investment management specialists, in Lafayette. He found VESTIA in 2005 when he and his employees were looking for a way to give to local families. He says, “I’m charitably inclined as I think most people are, but I don’t want to just give a donation to a big agency. I like to see my hard-earned money used in the community locally, and I told VESTIA that I wanted to be involved in what goes on. It’s different when you can see what your contribution means to a local family.”

“Everyone here has a family,” explains Aimee Schwartze, Capital Advantage’s Director of Client Services. “We wanted to do something, and I thought we could adopt a family for the holidays. I did some research and found VESTIA’s Angel Tree that first year. We bought toys for that program, and then in 2006 and 2007, we contributed gifts and cash donations to VESTIA for the Holiday Helpers Warehouse.”

Aimee is the organizer of the holiday campaign at Capital Advantage, and she recruited coworkers and clients to give to VESTIA too. “We sent a letter to everyone on our client list asking for their donations. We made it easy for them to drop things off at our office, and set up cookies and coffee for them when they came by. If they also wanted to meet with us or ask questions about their investments while they were here, we made ourselves available to talk business too. We had a good response to our letters.”

John believes, “People want to give, but they don’t know how or where. Our firm has a circle of influence, and we do make certain representations, so we want to be sure that the agency we contribute to is really giving the donations to the people who need help the most. I personally want to talk to the mom I’m helping and see what she needs.”

John and his wife Nicola contributed $1,000 to VESTIA at the holidays, and John says he also made a few calls to clients to urge them to match that contribution. Aimee made numerous trips back and forth to Martinez to deliver all the donations Capital Advantage received for the Holiday Helpers Warehouse. And John made good on his intention to be involved in seeing where the money goes by spending some time at the Holiday Helpers Warehouse as a volunteer. He says “I was the only man there the day I volunteered, and I talked to people and saw for myself how it worked. It was a good experience.”

Aimee also volunteered at the Holiday Helpers Warehouse, and came away with her theme for the 2008 drive. “We noticed that no one donated blankets,” she says, “And a lot of people asked for them. It’s sad to me to think that someone needs a new, warm blanket, and we didn’t have that to give. So, we’re going to ask for new blanket donations this year. I’d like to set a goal for us, and try to get 1,000 new blankets.”

John responds a little hesitantly to Aimee’s lofty goal. He suggests, “Maybe we should try for 500 blankets…1,000 might be a little high.” Aimee though is enthusiastic about her plan, “We could call stores and ask them if they could donate blankets too. It’s something we could do year-round. If we start getting them early, maybe we’ll just rent a storage unit to keep them in! We could do that, couldn’t we?” John agrees, “Sure, sure. You just start calling those stores, and we’ll see what they say.”

VESTIA thanks John, Aimee and all the employees and clients of Capital Advantage for their generous support of VESTIA. If you’d like to help Aimee with their 2008 Blanket Drive, call her at (925) 299-1500, or