Martin Luther King, Jr once said, "Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness." From Pfizer (PFE) to Goldman Sachs (GS) or tech barons like Bill Gates and Wall Street boss Warren Buffett, there's no shortage of corporations and individuals across the United States who are walking the talk when it comes to philanthropy and corporate social responsibility.
Just five minutes in the company of Early Walker is enough to realize what road the owner of W&W Towing of Cook County is on. The man affectionately known as Chicago's Secret Angel is regarded by many Americans as the living embodiment of generosity. Excerpts:
Q: Could you share details of how you're creating a loose alliance of businesses and individuals dedicated to acts of philanthropy?
A: It's an idea I've been considering for some time. If someone like myself can make a difference in the community, imagine what a hundred business owners under one umbrella organization, all working towards the same ends, could achieve? I'd be very interested in hearing from anyone who would consider helping and contributing funds to such a group. As Albert Einstein once said, "The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving."
Q: You're a successful businessman whose company has become renowned as helping those less fortunate and in need. Would you like to see more businesses follow your example?
A: Firstly, I'm not here to preach, but I cannot sit in a privileged position with a roof over my head, food on my table, a shirt on my back, a car in the garage, money in my pocket, and most importantly, a loving family to call my own and ignore the plight of those who are struggling or have fallen on hard times. If I have the means to help, then that's exactly what I'm going to do. My conscience wouldn't have it any other way. But in answer to your question, yes, I do believe there should be more corporate social responsibility. No man is an island, and poverty, crime, and destitution diminish us all.
Q: As someone who has gone out of their way to help and provide children who have lost a parent to gun violence, and someone who has provided over 25,000 turkeys to struggling households during Thanksgiving, what does it mean to you personally to be able to help people in such situations?
A: It means everything. Giving is its own reward. To ease the suffering of a grieving child when they realize it is good in this world as well as bad is priceless. Likewise, to relieve the worry of a struggling family. I do these things because I'm part of the community I live in and have a debt to those who went before and those who will come later to make it a better place.
Q: Your company, W&W Towing is well known in the Chicago area for helping out in times of need, like the way you delivered food care packages to seniors during the COVID-19 outbreak, but you've also been compelled to do your bit during national emergencies, such as the Flint, Michigan Water Crisis and the Houston Hurricane, haven't you?
A: Well, I've always taken the attitude that just as generosity knows no bounds, it should know no boundaries either. Action speaks louder than words, and acts of kindness will echo down the centuries. We saw a need for helping out in Flint and Houston, and so we answered the call by personally delivering thousands of bottles of water and other non-perishable items.