The Santa Monicas Chamber of Commerce (SMCC) honored Santa Monica based Macerich Corporation, the owner of Santa Monica Place (SMP), as a Business Cares recipient on April 24 for their activities to help end homelessness.This event is part of SMCC’s new Business Cares program which helps spotlight local businesses that are working to end homelessness. An event like this one is now being scheduled every two months so that businesses can not only be recognized for their work but also can explain to other businesses why they got involved and why it was good for their company.Macerich’s Marketing Manager Ashley Walkley explained that “every employee at Macerich gets 24 hours a year of paid time for volunteering” in the community. Macerich employees nationwide logged 20,000 hours of volunteer time in 2008. This was a 32 percent increase from 2007 and a 150 percent increase from 2004 when the program was started.Macerich also has a grant program for non-profits. Non-profits can apply for a $500 grant for an individual recognition program, a special event or a special volunteer event. The nationwide annual company budget for this program is $80,000.All Macerich mall property managers participate in the company’s MVP (Macerich Volunteer Program) program and decide on two or three organizations in their community that they want to donate their time and make a financial commitment to. SMP has partnered with the Santa Monica location of Crysalis (a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping economically disadvantaged and homeless individuals become self-sufficient through employment opportunities.) Crysalis employees helped clean the mall’s parking structures.The Westside Pavilion which is also owned by Macerich will be hosting an event on May 7 that will benefit Sojourn which provides services for battered women and their children at their Santa Monica location. This is part of Macerich’s national “Get Together and Give” program. Walkley stated a large majority of Macerich’s customers are women so they like to sponsor events “to have women help other women.” At this event they will be having volunteers make 500 personal care kits for the children at Sojourn from supplies donated by Macerich retailers and other community partners. The event will also provide networking opportunities for women. The Westside Pavilion has also worked with Habitat for Humanity which helps build homes for the disadvantaged.Another activity Macerich’s employees have participated in was volunteering in the kitchen at Santa Monica’s Step Up On Second. Step Up On Second provides services to the mentally ill and their families. Walkley herself recently participated in the Santa Monica homeless census count.
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