For many, one of the greatest achievements in life is when they are able to share their successes by giving back to the community in ways that are both impactful for recipients and meaningful to the person giving. Their reasons for giving back are as vast and varied as the causes they support; some feel indebted for the support they themselves, or their families, have previously received, while others have simply felt called to lift up those who have helped them in their success, but they all want to pay it forward to the community in which they live and work, the community in which many of them grew up, Las Vegas.
As Chief Strategy Officer of Bell Solar and Electrical Systems, Jeff Iverson finds satisfaction in helping people take control of their electricity costs and adding value to their homes and lives, but Iverson doesn’t stop there. In addition to his “day job,” Iverson serves as Founder and CEO of Freedom House Sober Living, CEO of CrossRoads, and Co-Founder and Director for Shine A Light Foundation.
In long-term recovery from all drugs and alcohol since 2006, Iverson knows firsthand the struggles facing this particularly underserved population. In 2010, Iverson founded Freedom House as a pathway for people who struggle with substance use disorder to become clean, sober, and productive members of the community. Since then, Freedom House has added partner companies CrossRoads of Southern Nevada and Shine A Light Foundation to provide a more holistic approach that incorporates treatment, housing, case management, medical detox, homeless outreach, and employment assistance to thousands of members of the community.
“Freedom House has changed drastically over time, going from a simple housing provider to now operating an inpatient drug treatment center, outpatient clinic, and transitional housing program,” said Iverson. “Our small grassroots homeless outreach program called Shine A Light is now its own 501(c)3 foundation, with an army of volunteers that go out into the streets delivering supplies and hope to the hopeless. Our goal is to develop a relationship with them, to build trust with them, and show them a way out when they are ready.”
It was the people who showed up for him many years ago that helped him the most during his recovery, and now he aims to do the same for others.
“What helped me the most in my recovery journey was to have someone who not only believed in me but also gave me the inspiration and tools that I needed to overcome the barriers, mostly mental,” said Iverson. “Someone to give me a hand up, to provide me with the tools and structure that are necessary to make such significant life changes. Our work at Freedom House, CrossRoads, and Shine A Light all strive to assist in this mission.”
In tackling the stigma surrounding issues such as substance abuse and mental health, Iverson hopes to send a clear message to those within the community, “that it’s ok to not be ok, he said, “that there is power in our truths, that shame and guilt can fade away, that there is no reason for our past to have to define our futures, that there is hope and that there are people who truly care.”
Those people who care include the Freedom House, CrossRoads, and Shine A Light teams, as well as employees from Bell who volunteer at local food banks, Shine A Light, and Victory Outreach East Las Vegas to bring cheer to underprivileged children during the holidays.
Iverson’s business partner Breann McCulloch, who also serves as Bell’s Chief Revenue Officer, is equally as involved in the Las Vegas community. She serves as Volunteer Chief Development Officer for Shine A Light Foundation and works closely with women in the local recovery community through the We Care Foundation.
“My position at Bell Solar has allowed me the opportunity to be of service to not only the team I lead and our community, but also to have an impact on those struggling in our community,” said McCulloch. “Our motto at Bell is ‘We are not the same,’ and we live this by teaching and leading our team to also be of service. Creating the opportunities for individuals both inside the Bell organization and through the agencies I work with for people to overcome barriers to become the best versions of themselves possible.”
The core values of Bell echo those of the three organizations Iverson has been instrumental in founding and running. “We strive to serve our community and positively impact people's lives. We try to leave the world a little better than we found it and help people understand that second chances are plentiful and that regardless of a person's position or status, we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” said Iverson.
Indeed, the team at Bell is leaving the world, even beyond Las Vegas, a little better. The company’s partnership with the Give Power Foundation works to provide electricity and fresh water treatment plants to small villages around the world that otherwise would not have access to electricity or freshwater.
“Last year, our team collectively donated over $100,000 to the Give Power Foundation, which qualified us to take 12 members of our team to Nepal on a trek,” said Iverson. “We installed a solar system on the roof of a small medical clinic in a village high in the Himalayan mountain range.”
A native Las Vegan, Iverson graduated from Las Vegas High School in 1992 and was in the Leadership Las Vegas Class of 2011. His commitment to serving the community runs deep, and he’s regularly looking for additional ways to get involved. He’s previously served on the Board for HELP of Southern Nevada, HOPE For Prisoners, and currently serves as a director on the Shine A Light Foundation Board.
“I am inspired each and every single day,” said Iverson. “From the homeless person who makes a decision to make some changes to the person who comes looking for an opportunity and discovers their true potential. I am inspired by the team of people who pour into the work we do every day to make a difference.”
McCulloch, also a native Las Vegan, is a former showgirl turned entrepreneur before focusing her efforts on bringing renewable energy solutions to valley residents through Bell.
“I’m inspired by watching people rise from the ashes of their past, breaking through mental barriers, overcoming trauma and tribulation, and putting in the work to live an extraordinary life.”
For Jenny O. Calleri, the fulfillment of her lifelong dream to own a jewelry store brought the opportunity to give back to local causes in the Las Vegas community and to those who made her industry possible: the minors in East Africa.
Born and raised in Las Vegas, Calleri worked her way up through various local jewelry stores before ultimately taking the reins of the historic Huntington Jewelers, which has kept valley residents supplied with exceptional jewels since 1950. This year she added an additional location in Summerlin.
Through these stores, Calleri celebrates her passion for color and fine jewelry as well as for where they came from.
“You can buy jewelry anywhere, but when you buy from me, we are really giving back to our industry, and we are helping to educate the next generation,” she said.
Through Gem Legacy and the Natural Diamond Council, Calleri supports vocational training, entrepreneurship, and community development in the East African communities that rely on the mining industry.
“Anyone can buy a diamond, but when you buy a diamond or a gemstone, and you know what part of the country it came out of — the trickle-down effect is real,” she explained. “Africa is such a resourceful part of the world when it comes to my industry.”
Gem Legacy works to empower the miners through education and supplies. “We teach them gemological training on how the earth forms these beautiful gemstones, and we buy them equipment and teach them how to use it,” she said.
Calleri not only supports Gem Legacy through in-store events that give back to the organization, but also she supports the designers who buy gems through the organization and the cutters.
“I sell artifacts of life and wearable art,” said Calleri. “When I can know the designer who literally went to the mine and picked this gemstone out, and I know that she made a difference in another part of the world and then comes back and shares that story with me, I’m part of history.”
Jewelry has always carried symbolic meaning, and the jewelry at Huntington Jewelers is no different. “When you wear something, there’s a story behind it; when you come into my store, everything has a story, and I want to share that with others,” she said.
To be sure, Calleri is passionate about what she does, but she’s also passionate about issues closer to home, particularly causes that support women and children and those who have suffered abuse and neglect. “I’m trying to align myself with people who have a common interest,” she said. Huntington Jewelers has placed its support behind St. Jude’s Ranch for Children and National Association for Women Business Owners to give grants to entrepreneurs trying to pave their own way.
Giving back to local children and supporting the local community are two causes important to MJ Bradford also. Bradford, the owner of MJ Bradford’s 307 Barbershop, celebrated the shop’s 3rd-anniversary last month. A transplant from Michigan, Bradford is committed to cultivating a safe and welcoming space at his 12-chair barbershop.
“I want my business to always be a safe place for the community,” said Bradford. “Where no matter what, they know they can come and get a good clean haircut and feel great about themselves.”
Inspired by his roots and upbringing, Bradford recognizes the important role that local businesses play in the communities in which they serve.
“I come from Pontiac, Michigan, where the community looks out for one another,” he said. “When you don’t have much, it’s important to be able to lean on those around you.”
Recognizing how hard times have been for so many lately and understanding the confidence-building power of a fresh haircut, Bradford organized his shop’s first annual back-to-school drive, where 150 local students received free haircuts and backpacks with school supplies in preparation for returning to the classroom this past August.
“We are always looking for new ways to give back,” said Bradford when speaking about ways his business gives back and the fundraisers he holds. “People come in my shop looking for help all the time, and I do my best to help them.”
Though relatively new to the Las Vegas community, it’s clear that Bradford’s heart and business are committed to his neighbors.
“I want to know that I made a difference in the community to the best of my ability, creating more opportunities for people around me and people who need the help,” he said. “And through example, I have shown those around me that I mentor how important it is to give back because everything in life takes a village.”
For Ray DiNardi, General Manager of Jaguar Land Rover Las Vegas, aligning with the specific groups within the community that will be the most impactful is one of the biggest challenges when determining whom to support.
“We obviously can’t say yes to everybody, even though we might want to,” he said. “We have tried to get involved with groups that have mission statements that align with what we believe will help improve our community by providing much-needed services.”
Growing up in the Las Vegas Valley, DiNardi has seen the incredibly rapid growth of the city and the challenges that can come along with growing so quickly.
“Witnessing all that growth, going from a small community in the desert to a major metropolitan community, a community that has provided tremendous opportunity, as well as tremendous challenges, has been an amazing experience,” he said.
And with great opportunity comes great responsibility, and the Findlay Automotive Group, which owns Jaguar Land Rover Las Vegas, has championed a variety of causes.
“The Findlay Automotive Group has always believed that it is our responsibility as businesspeople to be active participants in our community,” said DiNardi. Under his leadership, Jaguar Land Rover Las Vegas has supported local organizations for more than 20 years, including The Boy Scouts’ annual auction and sporting clays shoot, Adams Place’s, for whom they hosted the organization’s Vintage and Vines event, as well as Red Rock City Lifestyle’s Jags and Jets benefiting Miracle Flights, held this past June.
With an understanding of how life-changing these organizations can be for families in times of crisis, events such as Jags and Jets help raise awareness and funds to support the cause, bringing together many of whom had never heard about the organization.
“Having a child with a life-threatening illness must be the most difficult challenge a family could face,” said DiNardi. “Miracle Flights works to help people who find themselves in that position by providing transportation to and from potentially lifesaving treatment for their family member.”
DiNardi’s leadership is guided by gratitude and empathy. “This community has given so much opportunity to not only me and my family but also to countless people who have relocated here over the past seven decades,” he said. “How could anyone not be compelled to give back?”