Partners Step Up for Katrina Relief Effort
- By Paul Desmond
Microsoft has been pushing the idea of partners helping other partners
for some time now, as has the independent International Association
of Microsoft Certified Partners (IAMCP). To date, the talk has been
about companies helping each other in serving the needs of customers,
but in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the idea is taking on an entirely
IAMCP chapters in Texas, including Austin, Dallas, Houston and
San Antonio, along with Little Rock, Ark., are all raising money
and collecting other resources to help out hurricane victims. Much
of the money is going directly to the IAMCP chapter formed just
over a month ago in Louisiana, which is dispersing funds directly
to displaced businesses and their employees, many of them IAMCP
"We’re doing everything we can, from helping our partners
get some of their folks employed elsewhere, to giving them basic
things like water, diapers, baby food, those types of things,"
says Jamie Armanini, president of the Louisiana IAMCP chapter and
vice president of business development at Momentum, a Gold Certified
Momentum’s 40 employees were roughly evenly split between
two offices, one in Baton Rouge, La. and the other across from the
Superdome in New Orleans. "The first week was really hit and
miss. We had several New Orleans employees who we couldn’t
account for," Armanini says. "I’m happy to say
we have now accounted for everyone but we do have several homeless
or displaced employees that have moved to Baton Rouge and surrounding
areas and we’re working hard to try to get them temporary
That’s a tall order, given that Baton Rouge’s normal
population of about 400,000 has swelled to 1.2 million in the wake
of Katrina. "There’s not one house for sale, not one
apartment for rent," she says. So far, the best she’s
been able to do is find a bed and breakfast 45 minutes north of
Baton Rouge where she’s temporarily housing a couple of her
employees. She has about 15 displaced employees in all, plus their
Already, other IAMCP chapters have raised about $18,000 and handed
it over to the Louisiana chapter, according to Bill Breslin, U.S.
IAMCP president and director at Insource Technology Corp. in Houston.
"Local chapters are all directly influenced," he says.
"The Houston, Austin and Dallas areas all had evacuation camps
set up to take care of these folks, so it was in your face for them."
Microsoft is also in on the relief effort. Armanini worked with
Charlie Ramirez, the area partner community manager, to get several
hundred full versions and free 120-day licenses for software packages
to help get small businesses up and running again. Microsoft also
funded an ad in the local paper to let businesses know to contact
Armanini for help, and will be sponsoring a radio ad for the same
The software and financial resources are "open and available
to any business trying to relocate to Baton Rouge, and IAMCP partners
and customers they might be working with," she says. "We’re
ready to help in any way we can, with software, hardware, services,
The relief effort is far from over. Ramirez says the goal is to
raise at least $50,000 through various fund-raising efforts. The
Houston IAMCP chapter, for example, is co-sponsoring with Microsoft
a fund-raising barbeque event this Saturday (see www.houstonhelpfest.org
for details). Andrew Levi, president of the Dallas IAMCP chapter,
says his group is involved with Microsoft in a drive to collect
food, clothes and toys, and will commit a percentage of its already
planned golf tournament to the relief effort.
Gregory Gonzales, president of the Austin IAMCP chapter, says his
board has voted to match up to $3,500 in donations from individual
member companies (although, truth be told, the group has already
donated the full figure). The Austin chapter is also working with
its members and with Microsoft to find jobs for any displaced employees
of other companies, he says.
Breslin says any IAMCP member -- or indeed, any Microsoft partner
-- can contact him ([email protected])
if they’re interested in getting in on the relief effort.
The Microsoft South Central region has also established a Web site
with information on the effort, including a bank account where donations
can be sent.
Partners helping partners -- that’s the IAMCP way. As Microsoft’s
Ramirez says, "The line between partners and friends sometimes
blurs for us down here, especially if they are IAMCP partners."
Paul Desmond, the founding editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine, is president of the IT publishing firm PDEdit in Southborough, Mass. Reach him at [email protected].