For the past 17 years employees from the 126-year-old Baltimore-based insurance company RCM&D have taken a portion of a workday off to spend on the water sailing, while at the same time raising money.
This year is no exception.
The 18th annual fundraising regatta will be held on Sept. 23 at the Inner Harbor's Downtown Sailing Center.
Since its inception, the event has raised more than $410,000.
"This has become the rallying day for a lot of us here," said Robert Cawley, president of RCM&D. "It's an opportunity to give back to the communities we are fortunate to be a participant in."
The regatta benefits nonprofits in the communities served by RCM&D's seven regional offices throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Each year, new nonprofits are chosen through a grant-application process.
The event is meant as a day of service.
"At RCM&D, we are all fortunate to share the common value of a helping hand," said Cawley, adding that giving back is part of the culture of the company and something the employees at RCM&D take ownership of. "Our regatta serves as the vehicle to express their own inner sense of obligation."
There's a business side to giving back as well, adds Cawley.
"Whatever is good for the city is good for RCM&D. If we can help the city, particularly the less fortunate of the city, then that's going to be a better quality of life for our own staff," he said.
Last year the regatta raised $52,000 and benefited NorthBay, Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, the League for People with Disabilities, and St. Joseph's Villa for Children.
This year's goal is $60,000 and will go to Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Baltimore County, Elk Hill in Virginia, and Partners in Care Maryland.
With more than a week of fundraising left, they have already exceeded their goal, raising $61,000, said Marissa Schott, a senior claims adjuster at RCM&D and chair of the regatta committee.
"We had overwhelming support," Schott said. "It's amazing."
The company's 260 employees work to raise funds for the event by soliciting sponsorships for the sailboats participating in the regatta. They also donate money and participate in various fundraisers, including an online auction that brought in $11,600 this year.
RCM&D clients, vendors, employees and the benefiting nonprofits all take part in the day's events, which includes about 15 boats with four or five people sailing on each. Several races are scheduled that day, and anyone has the opportunity to sail, regardless of experience. The sailboats include a representative from RCM&D, along with an experienced sailor from the Downtown Sailing Center.
The regatta is a great way to represent the city, said Schott.
"That's why we love it. It's not your normal golf outing or bull roast — not to down those as we do love those and attend them regularly. But it's something unique, and it's very Baltimore," said Schott. "It showcases Baltimore and puts everything in perspective."
This is Schott's second year chairing the event.
"It's a great event, so it was something I wanted to be a part of," said Schott. "It's important to give back. You never know when you may need someone to do something good for you."
Susan Daddio, executive director of CASA of Baltimore County, said the money from the event would be used to support CASA's day-to-day operating budget.
"[The funds are] much needed for this year," said Daddio.
She said the donation is a huge help for a relatively small nonprofit like CASA, whose mission is to recruit, train and support citizen volunteers to advocate for safe and permanent homes for children in foster care.
"It's just wonderful in this day and age when things are so tough, to have a company like RCM&D willing to do this type of thing for three great charities," she said.
Each year RCM&D raises its fundraising goal.
"You can't raise enough to solve the problem," said Cawley. "So you have to kind of reach every year."