The recession has been a boon for Jaime Raskulinecz, CEO of Entrust Northeast. The company administers non-traditional retirement plans, and investors burned by the stock market have been flocking to protect their savings.
Raskulinecz and her partner, Linda Varas, wanted to pay their successes forward. They approached the mayor of their hometown, West Orange, N.J., and asked to "adopt" a family in need. For the past year, the couple has supported a family of five by purchasing groceries and other necessities for them once a month.
The family has also moved into one of the couple's rental properties. Local businesses furnished the apartment for free, and Jaime and Linda offer them steeply discounted rent.
The help was sorely needed -- neither parent speaks English well, and the mother recovered from breast cancer a few years ago.
"We've been blessed, so we personally can choose to do something with that," Raskulinecz says. "Donating to charity is great, but it's impossible for nonprofits to help everyone. It's a much deeper sense of satisfaction when you help someone directly."
Both parents take jobs where they can find them -- mostly minimum-wage jobs like car washing -- but the language barrier proves difficult. Still, Raskulinecz said the family's "spirits are so much better" thanks to their larger new apartment. Before, their living room doubled as a bedroom -- now, they have a dining area and a yard.
"Until you do it, you really can't understand the impact of small differences you make in your life," Raskulinecz said. "You may figure that nothing you can do will be enough, but your actions can literally change the world for someone else."