By Grace Kuikman
Neighborhood residents Greg Owen-Boger and Dale Ludwig are principals of Turpin Communications, a small company based in East Beverly that provides business consulting for meetings, presentations and sales. Their company’s Turpin Cares charity, which provides food, hygiene items and hand-knit scarves and hats to homeless people, was created in response to a “moment of truth” in late 2016 when a new business contact made a simple request, “Tell me about the Turpin culture.”
“We were a little taken aback,” Ludwig said. “And then we thought, ‘Y’know, why not do the work to define who we are.” The successful company, which had been in business for more than 20 years by then, tasked its employees to share their thoughts on what the company should stand for.
Owen-Boger’s and Ludwig’s shared personal commitments to diversity, fairness and honesty already were reflected in company practices, but what about the world beyond client meetings and office walls?
Ideas for Turpin Cares began percolating.
Owen-Boger and his friend Olive Rogers, an employee at the Starbucks on 103rd and Longwood, had been knitting hats and scarves and giving them to people on the street who, as Owen-Boger said, “looked like they needed them.”
Why not take this small gesture of warmth a little farther?
Owen-Boger and Ludwig enlisted some help and assembled about 25 care packages filled with food, first aid and hygiene products and, of course, hand-knit hats and scarves. Owen-Boger and Ludwig kept the packages in their cars and gave them to homeless people who they saw on the street. Frequently, the connection lasted only long enough to stop the car, jump out, and hand over the package with a heartfelt wish, but the looks of gratitude they saw in people’s eyes were enough to convince the business partners that they needed to do more.
Owen-Boger has a family member who has grappled with homelessness. That connection coupled with the realization that homeless people need help all year round compelled the decision to expand Turpin Cares outreach to quarterly donations and to ask employees and their extended network of committed “friendlies” to support the cause with donations of goods and assistance in creating care packages that provide much-needed items for people with such limited resources.
In its few short years of existence, Turpin Cares has steadily increased the number of people served. In 2017 they formed a partnership with Almost Home, a not-for-profit organization based in the south suburbs that provides “boots on the ground” assistance to the homeless primarily in south side communities. Almost Home has taken a lead role in distributing the Turpin Cares packages through shelters, handing them out one-by-one to recipients.
“The people connection – that’s my guiding star,” Owen-Boger said.
Owen-Boger and Ludwig still carry packages in their cars and maintain the face-to-face connection of giving them away, and in 2019, Turpin Cares will expand to offer services at least once a month.
Turpin Cares is in the midst of the holiday collection. Anyone can help! The Starbucks at 103rd and Longwood Drive has ornaments that list specific items needed for care packages. Take an ornament, purchase the merchandise, then return it to the Starbucks by Dec. 24. Knitters are also welcome to donate handmade hats and scarves.
For more information, visit www.turpincommunications.com and look for Turpin Cares.