BJ’s Restaurants Serves Up Perseverance and Passion in the Fight Against CF
For BJ’s Restaurants, giving back is as simple as the directive given by Chairman and CEO Jerry Deitchle: “Do more good things for more people.”
Employees are the driving force behind the corporation’s generous contributions to the CF cause, says BJ’s Restaurants Foundation President Rob DeLiema, pictured here at the Huntington Beach, Calif., Great Strides walk.
With the help of the eatery’s charitable arm, the BJ’s Restaurants Foundation, employees have taken that message to heart as steadfast supporters of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for the past 15 years.
“Our support of the CF Foundation is a big part of our company,” says Rob DeLiema, president of the BJ’s Restaurants Foundation, which helps organize charitable support primarily for CF as well as other causes focused on children’s health care and education. “We do it happily, and we’re very proud of it.”
A Corporate Commitment to “Do More Good”
BJ’s Restaurants and its Foundation support the CF cause in a variety of ways, the tastiest of which is through its Cookies 4 Kids program, funded by sales of the famous Pizookie dessert.
When a new restaurant opens, members of the community are invited to dine for free during the week-long “dress rehearsal,” with wait staff encouraging donations to the CF Foundation in lieu of the dinner bill.
BJ’s also leverages its partnerships with local schools through the CF Foundation’s CureFinders program, raising more than $300,000 for the CF cause to date. BJ’s doubles the support of the CF Foundation by matching the schools’ donations, while also rewarding each school with a donation of its own.
Dedicated Employees Drive Local Efforts
"By working together to support the search for a cure, BJ's employees build a sense of camaraderie and pride in knowing that their time and energy are adding tomorrows for families affected by cystic fibrosis."
- Rob DeLiema, president, BJ's Restaurants Foundation
While there is a strong corporate emphasis on giving back, the heart of BJ’s philanthropy lies in the 15,000 employees who take the lead in identifying and pursuing local opportunities to help families affected by CF, such as the CF Foundation’s Great Strides walks and CF Cycle for Life events.
Through a program called “BJ’s TASC Force” (Team Action to Support Communities), employees identify ways they can support causes and charities in their restaurant communities across the country, and the TASC Force provides them with the tools and resources they need to pursue their passion.
“It’s entirely grassroots-driven,” Rob says. “When I get a call from employees who want to get involved, I make sure we help them in any way we can, from making a contribution to the CF Foundation in recognition of their team to providing them with food and T-shirts for the event.”
Committed to the Cause, Until a Cure Is Found
This employee-driven approach, paired with the BJ’s leadership team’s strong emphasis on giving back, has really paid off. In 2011 alone, BJ’s support of the CF Foundation’s mission exceeded $540,000.
“When we read the news about real progress being made, and how kids and young adults with CF are living much longer and healthier lives, it feels good to know that we are a part of making that possible,” Rob says.
“Even though there’s real hope, we need to focus on the fact that young people are still losing their lives to this disease. We need to do everything we can to help find a cure.”
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