The American Institute of CPAs gave out its public service awards at its Spring Council meeting to an individual and a firm for their contributions to the community at large.

The award for an individual went to Michael D. Shmerling, chairman of Choice Food Group. He is also the founder of Abe’s Garden, a nonprofit organization developing an Alzheimer’s and dementia facility in Nashville. The organization is named after his father, a physician who suffered from Alzheimer’s in the last years of his life.

Shmerling has not practiced in 15 years as a CPA, but said that he continues to live by the profession’s ethics. “Even in light of all the important service work we do as CPAs, the obvious question is, 'Can we do more?’” he said. “We’re larger in numbers than the U.S. Navy. Even though the majority of our public service is conducted by our firms, as a collective group we have unrivaled potential. Individually we cannot change the world, but collectively, 150,000 strong, who knows?”

Schenck Business Solutions, based in Appleton, Wisc., won in the firm category for its commitment to corporate citizenship.  Volunteerism is a key component of the performance evaluation for each shareholder and is strongly encouraged among all employees.

The firm has supported the Greater Green Bay Women’s Fund, United Way of Waukesha County, Green Bay Habitat for Humanity, the Greater Milwaukee Area United Way, the McKey Christmas Club and Junior Achievement, among others. For the past several years, Schenck has sponsored a major fundraiser for Children’s Hospital and Health System.

The firm has been in the community for over 75 years, noted shareholder Karin Gale. “We’ve made volunteerism part of our culture and are including it in our goal-setting,” she said.


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