Federal IT community 'gives something back'

The federal information technology community is becoming more civic-minded, if a recent series of charity events serves as an indication.

The industry has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars this year through black-tie gala receptions, silent auctions and a fashion show. Recipients of the giving include the Northern Virginia Alzheimer's Association, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, the Darrell Green Youth Life Foundation and the National Institutes of Health's Children's Inn.

"I think it's an indication of the maturing of the community," said Robert Guerra, a consultant on federal IT issues and president of the Bethesda chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association. "As you see more mature leadership, people start to realize you need to give something back."

The amount of giving has increased. Sandra Fields, fund-raising director of the Northern Virginia Alzheimer's Association, said she has been working with companies such as Litton/PRC Inc. and Robbins-Gioia Inc. on a luncheon and fashion show scheduled for May 7 in McLean, Va. Fields said she hopes the event will raise $75,000 to

provide support groups, respite care services and a help line to people in Northern Virginia who care for loved ones stricken with Alzheimer's disease.

The association held a similar event last year, raising $25,000, a total that already has been exceeded this year through the generosity of federal IT companies, Fields said. While the event already has produced most of the $75,000 the association hopes to raise, tables are still available, Fields said.

Ginger Pomata, wife of Litton/PRC's president, and Patty Gioia, an executive with Robbins-Gioia, played key roles in getting more firms in the federal market involved with the effort.

Events organizers are having little trouble finding companies to contribute. Bob Lohfeld, senior vice president at OAO Corp., said he headed an effort by the Industry Advisory Council and the Federation of Government Information Processing Councils to sponsor a charity gala last weekend. Lohfeld said the sold-out event was expected to raise $300,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. He added that he expects IAC and FGIPC to sponsor similar events each year.

"This is the first time we have done a benefit for any charity," Lohfeld said. "It's nice that the IT industry has come of age, and we are starting to give back."

Guerra's AFCEA chapter also sponsored a black-tie dinner and silent auction that raised $50,000 for the NIH's Children's Inn, which serves children with terminal or rare diseases who are seeking treatment at the institutes. He said the money will be used for the children's transportation expenses. In addition, members of the chapter donated 34 TV, two PCs and Internet service for children to use at the inn, Guerra said.

One of the first large charity events in the federal IT community was sponsored by FCW Media Group, parent company of Federal Computer Week. This year, the company sponsored its third annual benefit for the Darrell Green Youth Life Foundation, raising more than $33,000 for underprivileged children in Washington, D.C., and other parts of the country.

Kay Murray, senior marketing events manager at FCW GTG, said the events have caused IT companies such as Computer Sciences Corp. to offer support by donating equipment to computer labs run by Green's organization. Green is a Washington Redskins football player.

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