A partnership has emerged between two seemingly disparate entities: DIRAK, Inc., a global manufacturer of access control hardware, and Friends of Loudoun Mental Health, a local nonprofit that serves to assist Loudoun residents living with mental illnesses.
In late May, the German-based DIRAK, Inc. presented Friends of Loudoun Mental Health with a $5,000 check and pledged to donate 2% of their future profits to the organization each year.
“I hope this just allows [Friends of Loudoun Mental Health] to live out their purpose, their mission, and their vision more successfully: help more people in the community locally that are struggling to get by for a variety of reasons,” said Gregory Breads, CEO of DIRAK, Inc.’s North American branch and initiator of the sponsorship.
Shortly after stepping into the CEO position around two and a half years ago, Breads sought to develop a mission statement for the North American branch that aligned more with its own regional values, rather than simply adopt a statement from DIRAK, Inc.’s other international branches.
“One of the things that came out of that project was interviewing all of our employees and asking them what they see as the purpose of DIRAK, and the phrase that came up in I think all but two responses was ‘peace of mind’ or something along those lines,” Breads said. “So it just kind of naturally fit that that became DIRAK’s purpose statement—to provide peace of mind in whatever it is we’re doing.”
It was this new drive toward promoting peace of mind, with an emphasis on increased community outreach, that prompted DIRAK, Inc. to search for local nonprofits and charities to contribute to and what ultimately caused them to select Friends of Loudoun Mental Health.
“Mental health ties in really well to our ‘peace of mind’ purpose statement. I also really like that [Friends of Loudoun Mental Health] have a lot of different programs that they do, so they’re not just kind of doing one thing,” Breads said.
DIRAK, Inc.’s support has been welcomed gratefully and enthusiastically by Friends of Loudoun Mental Health. According to Katrina Cole, the president of the volunteer-based nonprofit, their excitement stems from “wanting to get new, energetic people involved” in the organization, as well as “fresh ideas.” “We’re the only mental health nonprofit that works with the whole county…so we need to be out there,” she added.
At DIRAK, Inc.’s request, this year’s $5,000 donation was put toward Friends of Loudoun Mental Health’s “A Place to Call Home” program, which offers financial assistance for housing to people currently undergoing treatment through the Loudoun County Department of Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Developmental Services and who make below 150% of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines. For a family of four in 2021, that is $39,750.
According to Cole, the program currently provides $350 a month to approximately 23 patients for up to half a year and is offered on a first-come-first serve basis through an application. DIRAK, Inc.’s donation has allowed Friends of Loudoun Mental Health to accommodate at least two more patients in the program so far.
While DIRAK, Inc. will continue to support Friends of Loudoun Mental Health financially, Breads has a much larger vision for the partnership between these two organizations. Eventually, he hopes, their relationship will extend far beyond simply a financial capacity.
“It’s really important to me that when finding a group to partner with, we’re going to be doing more than just writing a check,” Breads explained. “I want it to be an activity, and I wanted it to really be part of our company culture as well.”
With that goal in mind, DIRAK, Inc. is set to provide a team of employees to participate in Friends of Loudoun Mental Health’s annual Walk for Hope this September. Walk for Hope serves to increase awareness about mental health while raising money for the nonprofit’s “A Helping Hand” program, which offers mental health patients funds to cover one-time utility expenses.
To Friends of Loudoun Mental Health, this partnership has been particularly meaningful because it is the first time that a company has reached out to them with the intention of both donating funds and becoming active participants in their mission.
“Being as small as we are, having people who really want to get in there and help is awesome because there are a lot of people that want to just write you a check…but they’re not willing to give their time,” Cole said. “The team at DIRAK is.”
Aili Hou is a rising sophomore at Columbia University interning at Loudoun Now.