2019 Torch Awards
The Better Business Bureau recently announced its 2019 Torch Award winners. The awards honor companies that meet the highest standards of ethics and demonstrate trust among their employees, customers and the community. The company leaders also must demonstrate a high level of personal character. Torch Awards are given in four categories: • Integrity: Business that maintain ethical business practices and integrity.
• Customer Commitment: Business with outstanding customer service.
• Good Neighbor: Businesses and employees who play a significant role in supporting the local community.
• Non-Profit: Non-profit organizations that positively impact the community they serve.
This year’s winners include Integrity Award winner Basinger Family Dentistry, Customer Commitment winner Educator Alexander Consulting, Good Neighbor winner Barksdale Federal Credit Union and Non-Profit winner Providence House.
Basinger Family Dentistry: 2019 Integrity Torch Award winner
Dr. Brian Basinger said the success of Basinger Family Dentistry is built on the Golden Rule.
“I am a Christian, and I base my practice and how we do things on Christian principles,” Basinger said. “How we treat people, from their very first interaction with us, is how we’d like to be treated. If they like what we do, I ask them to let others know about us. That’s how we’ve grown our business.”
Basinger is a Shreveport native and received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from LSU School of Dentistry. He has been practicing since 2006. Basinger provides free services and promotes dental education and awareness through a number of local ministries and community organizations, including Donated Dental Services and Give Kids a Smile Day. At the ADA convention in San Francisco in September, Basinger was inducted into the International College of Dentists, an organization that recognizes dentists all over the world for their integrity, leadership and service.
Basinger said he is grateful for both the Torch Award recognition and accreditation by the Better Business Bureau.
“It is nice to be acknowledged and recognized this way,” he said. “We are in our own little world of doing dentistry. Our interactions with our patients are one-on-one, and one at a time they may acknowledge that. For people who don’t know us, Better Business Bureau accreditation is comforting. It’s like reviews. People will look at reviews for anything these days before they make a purchase. When you can see someone else has good things to say, it’s validation.”
Basinger readily credits his entire staff with this award.
“I have had a small group working with me for a long time,” he said. “It’s a team award for all of us. Even though my name’s on the door, it’s the whole team working together that makes it happen. That’s why we were recognized.”
Educator Alexander: 2019 Customer Commitment Torch Award winner
Desiree Alexander turned a passion she didn’t know she had into her profession. The former educator launched Educator Alexander in 2017 with a mission to teach teachers. The Better Business Bureau honored her with the 2019 Torch Award for Customer Commitment.
“I am very committed to my customers because I am my customer,” she said. “You know they are living their lives, and they really want that quick response. I am committed to doing those things. That’s what makes me stand out.”
Educator Alexander provides professional development training for teachers. Alexander works with teachers individually and on a district- and state-wide basis on everything from technology in the classroom to classroom management and student relationships. The vision for her business was birthed from her early days in the classroom as a teacher in 2002.
“Ever since my second semester of teaching, I have been interested in helping educators,” she said. “I want to help them become what they want to become. I found they were afraid to ask questions and discouraged from continuing learning in the way they wanted to learn. Educators needed an educator teaching them. I understand how to incorporate it in the classroom – what they deal with on a day-to-day basis.”
Alexander said she is grateful to the BBB for this award because it puts a spotlight on education. She also is thankful for the teachers and their commitment to “do what we do, no matter what they have to deal with.”
“The biggest reward I get is when an educator comes back and says thank you,” Alexander said. “An award like this means that a broader audience recognizes what I do. It’s always nice to be recognized by someone else when you are doing something to change the world. The more we focus on educators, the more they can focus on the students.”
Barksdale Federal Credit Union: 2019 Good Neighbor Torch Award winner
Barksdale Federal Credit Union opened in 1954 with a mission to serve the Barksdale Air Force Base community. Now with 25 locations throughout the community, the credit union remains committed to serving the base and its military and civilian personnel, as well as the community at large.
“As with any business, you have goals that you want to set,” said Melissa Couch, vice president of business development for BFCU. “But I think a lot of times businesses forget that there’s value in helping out your community, even when the people that you’re helping are not necessarily members, or going to bring financial benefit to your business. We’ve always strived to not just be a financial institution on the corner. We want to be someone that gives back.”
Barksdale Federal supports The Warrior Network, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the airmen at BAFB, other area military personnel and their families. Barksdale Federal employees volunteer for The Warrior Network’s annual Thanksgiving Feast, Kids Fest and more.
“By honoring the families of the airmen, in recognizing the strife and struggles that they go through, that’s honoring our airmen as well,” Couch said. “Anything that we can do to make the life of our armed forces easier is right where we want to be.”
Barksdale Federal also supports the Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana, the Children’s Miracle Network, the City of Shreveport’s “Paint Your Heart Out” program and area schools. Couch said she is proud of the fact that many activities the credit union supports are employeedriven, and that community spirit is growing beyond the employees, too.
“Our employees love volunteering,” Couch said. “But we’re also finding that our employees are bringing their family members with them, and so this goal that we have to be a good neighbor in our community is not only going through our employees, but that’s trickling down into their families. Hopefully, that’s going to create a community that loves and gives back selflessly and does it for the greater good.”
The Providence House: 2019 Non-Profit Torch Award winner
Founded in 1988, Providence House is a residential emergency shelter for homeless families with children. Providence House is the largest emergency shelter for homeless families with children in Louisiana and has the capacity for up to 80 families. The nonprofit has grown with an unfailing resolve to fulfill its core mission: “To break the homeless cycle one family at a time.”
“We are trying to start from ground zero to stand them up and then get them moving from the thing that led to their homelessness,” Executive Director Verni Howard said. “It is so much bigger than food, clothing and shelter. That’s what people think of a homeless shelter, but I tell everybody that we are about education and workforce development. Those are the only two major tools that really break the homeless cycle.”
Howard said that homeless families who come to Providence House receive counseling, food, clothing, shelter, financial literacy education and more when they arrive. And it all takes place in a community-centered environment. And while the programs are geared to supporting the entire family, Providence House pays particular attention to the children.
“Children bear the brunt of homelessness,” she said. “A mom or dad may be going through that process, but it is the child who wears the stigma of it.”
Howard said that the Providence House team also sees its larger role within the community.
“It’s not enough for us to just take care of our village,” she said. “We are just a small village in a larger community. We have 10 spaces for children whose families and parents need access to high quality affordable childcare in our child development center. Everything that we do is for the benefit of our community. It’s for the benefit of homeless families, but we rise when our community rises.”