Humble Beginnings
Thursday, October 6, 2016
by: Annette Ahumada, Scripps Health

Section: Member News

A 14 year old girl walks into her 2nd period class and immediately she sees a large red wood conference table at the center of her classroom. It looks familiar, as she turns to the front of the class she sees a large desk with a high back chair that her teacher is currently sitting in. “Mr. Williams, looks like we have some new furniture, were these items donated?”, the girl asks. Mr. Williams responds, “Yes.” As he responds, the girl begins to smile, “Mr. Williams, were they donated by a healthcare organization”? Mr. Williams responds, “How did you know that?” The girl responds while smiling, “Well, my mom is a property manager for a large healthcare organization. She was teaching me about obstacles and opportunities, and in one of the situations she explained that she has to empty buildings of furniture in a short period of time and would prefer not to just recycle/dispose of them if she could not find a new home within her organization.” She said this as an opportunity to help others and was looking into donating the items. This conference table in our class, reminds me of the times I had running around it and sitting in those chairs. I remember the scratch on the table leg, I saw it at the last building event I was able to attend. Mr. Williams’s responds, “please thank your mother for us, my old desk has been sitting in this class since the school was built. A lot of teachers at this school thank your mother for this donation.”

As for most property managers, tenant move outs can go two ways. Simple and smooth, office space is empty, clean and patch/repaired. Or, the complete opposite, full of furniture, dirty and unrepaired. The story above was an entire building that needed to be returned to the landlord in a very short period of time. At least half the furniture was able to be repurposed to a new building since it matched the standard and was still relatively new. The remaining had to be removed, I followed the same steps as before to the relocation to sister properties, sell the remaining items or recycle. All steps lead to a cost of disassembles, possible reassemble, moving cost and recycling. The amount of furniture was too great to sell in short notice, and no other properties were in need. I could not personally just recycle when the items were still in good condition. Donating seemed the best logical step, to be completely honest, I would always prefer to donate than to recycle. Humble beginnings in my life is what my daughter believes is the reason why I feel strongly about donating rather than wasting items that can still benefit others.

At this time I had several properties with residential, office and conference furniture that I needed to unload in a short period of time. I contacted the large charities first, unfortunately they were either not interested or did not return my calls. I had to get creative… I began reaching out in social media, BOMASD network if anyone had reputable contacts that would be interested in this type of donation and could meet my time line. Luckily, I was referred to an organization called “Unity 4 Orphans”, they were happy to accept the residential items to be repurposed in the orphanages in Tijuana. As did the Sweetwater school district when I contacted them regarding the large amount of office/conference furniture. That one email triggered a ripple effect, I began receiving emails from several schools throughout San Diego County that are looking for this type of donation. Now I know it always feels good to donate and any company can benefit having their name branded with a donation. However, we live in a society that requires this primary question to be addressed, “How does this impact the bottom line?”
When I approached my management team on this idea, I had to prove the positive impact on our bottom line. As most people know donations are a tax write off, unfortunately for non-profit organizations we do not follow under that same type of tax break. The positive impact I was able to show was not only saving cost on the disassemble/moving and recycling cost but I was able to take the total amount of value of the furniture that would be gifted and was able to remove that amount from the depreciation at the time donation, decreasing the expense for remainder of the current tax year. I was able to confirm this approach with upper management and was given the green light to proceed.

Yes, this was originally an obstacle that became an opportunity, and I found a solution from my humble beginnings in life.  I also had the knowledge and support provided by BOMASD to see this solution. Below are photos from the donation and brief description of this wonderful organization that I will continue to use. 

Unity 4 Orphans main mission is to find the resources to improve the everyday living conditions of the children, to provide guidance, facilitate partnerships to help, and to educate and enrich the lives of these less fortunate children. Manuel Macia (