Auntie Anne’s and Cinnabon franchisee Lisa Fullerton, right, with husband Jim and their first San Antonio Clubhouse employee, Maria.

After reading a story in the local newspaper about a San Antonio-area pastor being arrested because he was advocating for a homeless man, Lisa Fullerton felt compelled to take action. The Auntie Anne’s and Cinnabon franchisee learned about the pastor’s feeding ministry and began donating unsold product from her stores to the church, also the meeting place of mental illness support organization San Antonio Clubhouse. Then just a start-up, the Clubhouse was seeking business partners willing to give their members an opportunity to rejoin the workforce. Having someone in her family with a mental illness gave Fullerton even more of a reason to step up.

“Most homeless people have some sort of mental health disorder,” says Fullerton, owner of A Novel Idea, which has five Auntie Anne’s and two Cinnabons in San Antonio, Texas. “It’s so stigmatized,” and because of that finding meaningful work is often difficult.

One of the first transitional employers to work with the Clubhouse, Fullerton has employed about 35 members since 2003, and that ongoing community involvement earned her the Spirit of Franchising Award last year as part of the International Franchise Association’s Franchising Gives Back recognition. Now in its fifth year, the IFA and its Educational Foundation are seeking nominations that highlight the charitable efforts of franchisors, franchisees and industry suppliers.

“Franchising Gives Back is the single most valuable tool we have to show our lawmakers at local, state and national levels how the franchising community supports those in need by giving back every day,” wrote Steve Romaniello, a founding sponsor of the program and managing director at Roark Capital, in an email.

Nominations are open now through June 21 at franchisinggivesback.org/awards.

The award categories are:

• Spirit of Franchising Award — honors an IFA member whose charitable or community support program embodies the spirit of what it means to be a part of the franchising industry by giving back to their local community.

• The Newcomer Award — highlights a new charitable or community support program launched that has made a significant impact on a local community.

• Enduring Impact Award — honors an IFA member with a longstanding commitment to their community that has been executing an outstanding charitable or community support program(s) for at least five consecutive years.

• Support Our Veterans Award — recognizes an IFA member whose charitable or community support program has gone above and beyond the call of duty to help those men and women who have served in the U.S. military and their families, and positively impacted their local community along the way.

• Innovation and Impact Award — honors an IFA member whose charitable or community support program focused on using creative, innovative ways to maximize the benefits and impact on their community with limited resources.

Winners will be honored at the Franchising Gives Back Celebration & Awards Dinner on September 9 to kick off the Franchise Action Network Annual Meeting at the JW Marriott in Washington, D.C. Gold award winners receive a $5,000 donation and Silver winners receive a $1,000 donation for their charity partner.

Check out our coverage of the 2018 award winners here.

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