Season of Giving: Empowering Communities Through Volunteerism with Daniel R.
By: Beau H., Content Manager
For nearly two decades, our Season of Giving initiative has put Schwab's spirit of service to work by giving back to the communities we call home. This year, we are making the season brighter by fighting food insecurity with Harvest Pack meal kit assembly events, company donations to local hunger relief partners like Meals on Wheels, donation drives supporting Toys for Tots, and special partnerships with charitable organizations like Soldiers’ Angels.
Daniel R., a United States Marine Corps Veteran and Director in Brokerage Services, is playing a crucial part in providing active service members, veterans, and military families with food security and support. Keep reading to learn about his journey to Schwab, how his leadership in our Military Veterans Network (MVN) is creating a positive impact through volunteerism, and his thoughts on the importance of lending a helping hand.
From New Jersey to the Marine Corps
Daniel grew up in East Windsor, New Jersey, an outer-ring suburb situated near several highways that serve both New York City and Philadelphia. The township is considered a hub of industry, and it’s bustling professional landscape inspired Daniel to start working at the young age of 12 years old.
Throughout his teens, Daniel managed to balance a job, school, and sports alongside his two brothers. Then, in 2001, a national tragedy occurred that would change the trajectory of his life forever. “I was in the cafeteria when teachers wheeled in a TV, and we all watched in awe as the 9/11 attacks unfolded. None of my family in New York was hurt, but I did have friends at school who lost parents or relatives on that day.”
For Daniel, the events of September 11th left him feeling compelled to make a difference. A few months after that harrowing day, the Marines came recruiting and he saw an opportunity to serve his country. “I was supposed to take off at 17, and wound up shipping out right when I turned 18 – my twin brother and I went in together. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made, and although I’ve always been disciplined and had a strong work ethic, the experience helped mold me as a person.”
After four years and multiple deployments to Iraq, Daniel found himself at a crossroads upon leaving the military. A chance opportunity brought him to Florida, where he took an unexpected turn into the finance industry.
Finding a Home at Schwab
The move to Florida was initially prompted by personal reasons, but destiny had a different plan for Daniel. With the help of a friend, he secured an interview at a bank – which eventually led him to discover his passion for finance. Despite not having a college degree, his military experience was deemed equivalent, opening the door for him to start building a new career.
“I was very fortunate to get the interview and job, but eventually realized there wasn’t growth potential at the bank. Then, after a brief stint as manager at an insurance company, I was referred to Schwab by a friend of mine. He talked about how the culture was different, and how advancement and growth were prioritized here. So, I jumped at the opportunity and started in an entry level position back in 2011.”
Discovering Our Supportive Culture and Employee Resource Groups
Reflecting on his career journey at Schwab, Daniel highlights the pivotal role played by his first manager, Cindy. Hitting the ground running, he absorbed his work duties like a sponge and began taking on more responsibilities. In response to his incredible diligence, Cindy provided resources and opportunities that set the tone for Daniel's growth within the company.
“(Cindy) supported me through my licensing, training, and then the multiple promotions that led to my first leadership position. That success also came with hard work, too – by exceeded her expectations every year, I was able to progress in my career and she was always there if I needed her.”
But Cindy's help didn’t stop at professional development. She encouraged Daniel's involvement in the Military Veterans Network (MVN), allowing him to take over leadership of the group within his first three months here. This marked the beginning of his volunteerism efforts at Schwab, where he found opportunities to give back and build lasting relationships.
“Because I was able to balance work and MVN responsibilities, Cindy invited me to get involved in other stuff, like our wellness group in Orlando. Her encouragement allowed me to jumpstart building my brand and network with leaders, which is the kind of support I try to give back to fellow Schwabbies.”
Making a Nationwide Impact Through Volunteerism
As the National Chair for the MVN, Daniel oversees and coordinates initiatives that touch lives across the United States. His approach to our ERG groups, including MVN, is mainly focused on two things: making a difference in our communities and giving others the opportunity to get involved.
“What’s good about ERG groups, especially if you lead one, is that the possibilities to help are endless. It's your imagination and volunteer time, so what will you create with it? I’m always thinking, ‘What can I give back to others?’ – they might be struggling, or aren’t as fortunate as I was to find a job after their service, or maybe didn’t even make it back alive. I’ve had friends who lost their lives overseas, so what can I do to support military families stateside?”
One of the standout initiatives Daniel champions is the partnership he formed with Soldiers' Angels. This nonprofit organization has become a beacon of hope, reducing food scarcity for veterans and their families while giving aid to active service members abroad. The partnership also offers Schwabbies the chance to connect with veterans and spread awareness about their struggles.
“After COVID, we had to return to some type of normal and reenergize our ERG groups. At the time, my co-Chair and I were looking for new initiatives to partner with and came across Soldiers’ Angels. We decided to get involved with their monthly food distribution events, where over 200 veterans receive 70+ pounds of food each. A lot of these people depend on this food, so they get everything from meats and cheeses to canned goods and baked goods.”
Daniel also emphasizes the personal connections he and volunteers make, where they engage in conversations with veterans and discover the importance of their support.
“You get to meet these people and hear their stories. As you saw in the video, they’re driving or walking up, and you talk with them and can see how much they appreciate your help. To me, the true value behind this volunteerism is conversing with my brothers and sisters who might be struggling – that's where this really hits home. We get to see the impact we’re making, and it moves some Schwabbies to tears.”
Encouraging Others to Make a Difference
Beyond the partnership with Soldiers’ Angels, Daniel also organizes MVN events that support the Howard Phillips Center and Toys for Tots (the latter of which he has been working with since the age of 16). As someone who values the chance to give back to others, he shares his words of encouragement for fellow Schwabbies considering joining an ERG or engaging in volunteerism.
“We’re in uncertain times right now and people need help more than ever. It doesn’t matter if you align with a specific group or not, what’s important is that you make an impact in your community.”
Daniel continues by highlighting Schwab's “time to volunteer” benefit and urges his colleagues to take advantage of the opportunity.
“As long as you care about making a difference, sign up. Schwab supports it – we give every employee eight hours a year to go volunteer, so use it! There's so much fun you can have helping others, and you're giving back to great causes. Take that time to go and volunteer.”