By Mary Teresa Bitti
Michael and Susan Adams didn’t know anyone when they moved to Shreveport, La., in 1974.
Some 30 years later, the city is home.
Together, the husband and wife have raised three sons, built their careers and established themselves as giving members of their adopted and much loved city.
This past spring, Michael was named king of Shreveport’s Cotillion Ball, where a long-held tradition requires guests to present the king with a gift.
For the first time in the history of the Cotillion, Adams asked that all gifts be given to the Volunteers of America North Louisiana in his name.
“He wanted to turn it into something that had significant meaning for him,” says Lisa Brandeburg, the nonprofit’s vice president of communications and development.
“We have made our way here and the community has been just wonderful to us,” says Adams, president of Blanchard, Walker, O’Quin & Roberts law firm. “It is such a gracious community we just feel like it has done so much for us, we have to give back in some way. The best way to do that is to donate our time, talents and whatever financial resources we can.”
Over the years, Adams has done just that with the Shreveport Juvenile Justice program, the annual Red River Revel arts festival, First United Methodist Church and LSU Law School.
For the past seven years, Adams has put his skills as a lawyer to work for the Volunteers of America North Louisiana, where he is following up his second term as board chair by taking on the chairmanship of the nonprofit’s first Endowment Planned Giving Advisory Committee.
Back in 2003, he helped introduce the Benevon fundraising model to cover operating costs, and has consistently served as a table captain at the annual fundraising breakfast, where volunteers bring together potential donors to share the nonprofit’s story and inspire them to give.
“Mike has championed our annual-giving effort and helped us elevate it,” says Brandeburg. “He has been an instrumental part of our team that has raised over $3.2 million since 2003 for our operating costs.”
Earlier this year, the group’s board formally established an endowment, for which Adams is serving as chair.
“I can’t ever remember him saying ‘no’ to something we asked him to consider doing,” says Charles Meehan, president and CEO of the organization.
That includes tutoring young children one on one.
“We are blessed with many people who have passion for our mission and want to help us to make this community better one child, or one person with disability or one family at a time,” says Meehan.
Adams is helping the organization in two ways, making sure the group does those things necessary to be a good business, and sharing his time and talent to help an individual child, Meehan says.
“Usually, you get one or the other, not both,” he says.
Adams, who estimates he spends 10 percent to 15 percent of his time volunteering, wishes he could do more.
“Every moment of our day is an investment for the next moment,” he says. “If we invest our time and talents to enriching the lives of others, it makes the world a better place. I really don’t give enough of my time to enrich the lives of others. That’s what drives me to do this.”