No matter how successful you may be, it’s essential to remember that there are always people around you who are struggling. Whether it be medically, financially, mentally, or emotionally – struggle is a constant numb pain for many. What helps make the world a better place is when those in success take the time to help those in struggle.
Brion Harris, CEO and Founder of Premier Planning Group, in Annapolis, MD is constantly striving to be the best version of himself – often working long hours to go above and beyond as a financial advisor for clients and then going home to be a loving husband and father to his three children. When he came across the Gradient Gives Back Foundation – its mission really hit home, and he thought it would be an incredible way to assist the community he already cared so deeply for.
The Gradient Gives Back Foundation is a nonprofit organization that devotes its resources to assisting Americans who have fallen on hard times and are now at risk of losing their homes. The Foundation gives 100% of donations back to families in need by providing a full year of housing payments in hopes of giving families a hand up in life. It also seeks to unite communities by inspiring Americans for the purpose of charitable giving.
Brion generously decided to share his successes with those who had found themselves in hard times. He partnered with Gradient Gives Back and began to review applicants in the Maryland community. In the past, those who had partnered with Gradient Gives Back kindly gave one family in their community 12 months of housing payments. However, Brion came across two extraordinary applicants who, despite their hardships, remained exceedingly positive with their outlook of life, and felt that he had to find a way to help both families through their struggles. “These families have both dealt with more difficulties in the past several years than many people encounter in a lifetime,” Brion said. “My hope is that this money gives them the hand up that they need to get back on their feet.”
Shakeithia Tillman of Pikesville, MD found herself as an unexpected single mother when her life partner, Otis, took his own life after fighting depression. With no life insurance, no partner, and immense grief, Shakeithia ultimately lost her job, her car, and her home. It was extremely difficult to fight through the pain, but she did just that for her children and herself and is beginning to overcome this unexpected tragedy. “You’re more positive than a lot of people I know,” Brion said. “A close friend of mine lost his wife to suicide and I saw the unbelievable amount of pain he went through so for you to have this positive outlook on life after what you’ve gone through is really amazing,” he continued. Shakeithia has now found a new job and moved into a new home with her children and is trying to establish a new normal for her and her kids. However, she’s still under intense financial pressure and unable to afford things that many of us take for granted like a cell phone and car. Otis’s mother nominated her for Gradient Gives Back in hopes of helping her get back on her feet.
The Tillman Family at the surprise gift presentation.
Clifford and Kimberly Heard and their three children of Gwynn Oak, MD face many health issues making it difficult to work and creating heaps of medical bills. Clifford served in the Navy and after his service ended about two decades ago, began working in a labor-intensive job in addition to working seasonally for the Orioles. Kimberly was a special needs teacher until her health problems took over her life. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and most recently cancer and has had to quit working. Over the last few years, Clifford has had to have several back surgeries, and between his recovery and his wife’s treatments, he has been unable to find full-time work. Two of Clifford and Kimberly’s children have autism, which compounds the difficulty of finding child care for work and medical appointments. Clifford nominated his family for Gradient Gives Back because of their constant struggles and in hopes of turning his family’s lives around.
The Heard Family at the surprise gift presentation.
Brion knew he had to help both families and decided to do everything possible to make that happen. With the help of donations from other advisors in the office, Stephen Holt and Jason LaBarge, clients, and Brion’s generous donation, he was able to raise enough money to provide both the Tillman and Heard families with a full year of housing payments. Both families were awarded at a surprise gift presentation on Friday, April 19th, 2019 at Premier Planning Group’s Day of Giving where donors were present to share the good news with the families.
"You forget just how good it feels to give," Brion said Friday at the surprise gift presentation. "It feels better to give than to receive, I think." We hope this story inspires you to share with your own community in any way you have possible. When you find success, it’s easy to forget that those around you may not be as well off. However, it’s always important to take a step back and look at those around you and lend not just a handout, but a hand up.
Donations are still being accepted. To donate, contact Kate Harris at 443-837-2530 or visit www.gradientgivesback.com/donate. Please specify "Premier Planning Group" in the checkbox listing: "Please provide the honoree's full name or title below."
From left to right: Ben Seitz and Christy Klink of Gradient, Jason LaBarge of PPG, The Tillman Family, Elizabeth Harris, Brion Harris of PPG, The Heard Family.
The charitable entities and/or fundraising opportunities described herein are not endorsed by or affiliated with Summit Brokerage Services, Inc. or its affiliates. Our philanthropic interests are personal to us and are not reviewed, sponsored or approved by Summit Brokerage Services, Inc.