Duke Realty’s Culture of Philanthropy Empowers Florida Associates

Duke Realty associates Stephanie Rodriguez (left) and Lauren Pace (right) gather backpacks for Kids in Distress

It can be easy to lose yourself in the day-to-day grind of your work. For Stephanie Rodriguez, senior vice president of Duke Realty’s Florida region, finding opportunities to serve her community in Florida has been a meaningful way for she and fellow Duke Realty associates to find perspective and connect more deeply throughout the year.

“Sometimes you can get entrenched in this business-as-usual mentality,” Rodriguez said. “The fact that Duke Realty prioritizes giving back to our community, we get to know each other better as individuals on the team when we’re doing those projects. It means a great deal to me, and it adds a human element to the work we do.”

Rodriguez has spearheaded collection efforts for organizations like Kids In Distress, SOS Children’s Villages, and God’s Little Lambs among others. Supporting charitable organizations that focus on meeting the needs of children is a personal decision for Rodriguez. “My daughter was adopted and her birth mother didn’t feel like she could provide for her long-term,” she said. “Just knowing that there are so many children out there who are in search of some stability and having their basic needs met is just something that’s very important to me.”

To keep associates safe during the pandemic, Rodriguez and her team chose to forego their annual day of service last year. But that didn’t stop them from finding a way to make an impact. They used a vacant warehouse as a drop-off location and activated their network of brokers and developers to partner on a school supply drive. The four-week effort brought in more than $7,000 worth of school supplies as well as $3,353 in monetary donations.

This year, Rodriguez and her team have been working to continue their impact. With the help of her local network in commercial real estate, Stephanie and her team collected 100 backpacks full of school supplies and had a Halloween drive in support of Kids in Distress.

As they head into the holidays, they’re doing a pajama drive for Kids in Distress, and a backpack project for homeless members of the community. “Affordable housing is an issue in this region, which is why there’s a lot of housing insecurity with some of the groups we work with,” she said. “And I think that will continue to be a problem until we address it as a region.”

“Duke Realty has a lot of tenure on its team,” Rodriguez said. “People come and they stay, and I think it’s the culture that keeps them here. They give us time off to volunteer in the community. They contribute financially through programs like Dollars for Doers. There’s just a tremendous amount of support at every level, and I think that’s really important when it comes to working for a high-quality company.”