Work Hard, Play Hard: Why I Give Back

mike doug 2014Mike Schiappa is the Sr. Director of Facilities for Hilton Grand Vacations. He has been a supporter of the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida for many years, and has been among the top fund-raisers in the annual Doug Spencer Golf Challenge. He has golfed more than 700 holes, and raised more than $25,000 in his past six tournaments for the Coalition … and he’s hoping to raise more than $10,000 and play more than 100 holes of golf on April 17th!

Others may see it as playing golf for a good cause…but I see this tournament as a way to contribute to something bigger – giving folks a chance to rebuild after loss. I commit fully to my fundraising, and I golf my heart out on the day of the tournament. Whether folks give a flat donation, or they’re making a contribution per hole, I have an obligation to do my absolute best to make a positive difference.

I just have a strong feeling about supporting the Coalition – because they are helping folks who have lost something very important. And whether it’s a home, or someone in your life, loss is something that’s tough to overcome.

This goes back to when I was very young, and my own experiences with loss. I’ve always been a big hockey fan, and my older brother was a goalie that I loved and admired. I was devastated when he was killed in an accident when I was in the sixth grade. A few years later, our home burned down and we lost everything. Then, during my senior year in high school, my Dad died.

I can personally relate to the overwhelming feeling of loss, and I also know how it feels to have some help in rebuilding. I just feel that if you give someone the chance and the help to rebuild, they will take it and succeed. Playing in the golf challenge makes me feel like I am helping in some small way to give someone that kind of a chance to turn things around.

My wife and I have been married for 32 years, and when we moved to Florida several years ago, we came to take care of her parents who were both in their 80s. I had a great job up north and my wife had her own business, but it was the right thing to do for our family. I didn’t have a job lined up here, but my former company let me work part-time and covered our insurance. It was just enough help to give us a fresh start. I was very lucky to hear about a job at Hilton Grand Vacations (the best company I have ever worked for) and even more fortunate to be hired. April 12th marks my 11th anniversary, and it’s still an incredible job.

While it’s true I have had some tough times, I believe in never giving up – and that you should just keep doing the right thing.

As far as raising funds for the Coalition, I always try to do as much as I can – no matter what I’m doing! If you can’t go out and go as hard as you can – then don’t go. Work hard, play hard.