Corporate team building is a term open to interpretation. Too often it comprises mindless exercises that burn time with no discernable results. But not today. Not here. Because these people from Northwestern Mutual are united with a purpose. Each of these green boxes, marked Cheeriodicals, will be delivered to a child at Children’s of Alabama.
Cheeriodicals, the company behind this unique event, is the creation of Mary Martha and Gary Parisher —graduates from the AUM College of Business. And their company, in just a few short years, has impacted thousands of lives.[/vc_column_text]
What is a Cheeriodical?
The idea for Cheeriodicals originated with an illness. Mary Martha’s uncle was admitted to a hospital in Houston, Texas and she wanted to send a small gift.
“He’s a fisherman,” she said. “Flowers or candy just weren’t the right gift to send, but I thought he would enjoy an outdoor magazine. I called the gift shop at the hospital to see if they would deliver something to his room but they couldn’t help. So I did what we all do these days: I asked Google. Oddly, I couldn’t find any kind of service that would deliver a magazine to a patient in the hospital.”
And from that unmet need, Cheeriodicals was born. The idea is simple. Have a friend in the hospital? Go online and order a Cheeriodicals box to be delivered to the patient’s room. Choose from the many magazines they offer on a wide range of topics. The box will also include a variety of other items designed to cheer the patient’s stay.
Do you have the nerve to do it?
Once they had discovered the idea, Gary and Mary Martha discussed its merits, all of the risks, all of the challenges, all of the many reasons not to commit. And in the end, it came down to one question: “do we have the nerve to do it?”
“An original idea is a scary thing,” Gary said. “You have nothing to compare it to. We didn’t know if the potential was a lot or a little. But we knew that if we were going to do it, then we were going to have to give it everything we had.”
It all began at AUM
Mary Martha moved to Montgomery from Tallahassee to attend AUM and for work. She finished her undergraduate degree at AUM before entering the MBA program. During her MBA program, Mary Martha took “Economics and the Law” from Dr. David Sollars. From that positive experience, she decided to go on to law school after completing her MBA. Gary also moved to Montgomery while working for Astra Zeneca. He knew it would be valuable to complete his masters to enhance his opportunities at his company, so he too entered the MBA program.
“We met in class,” Mary Martha said. “It’s amazing how our time at AUM has impacted every aspect of our lives. I studied business there. I met my husband there. And, it was a class I took at AUM that prompted me to go on to law school to study corporate law after finishing my MBA.”
The Parishers launched the Cheeriodicals site on May 11, 2011. “We had this naïve notion that ‘if you build it, they will come,’” Gary added, “and of course they didn’t come. Not like we hoped.”
“I pulled out my old marketing text books,” Mary Martha joked. “Launching the business was a challenge, but it turned out to only be the beginning.”
“When you think about it, we were trying to build a national brand, without a national-brand budget,” Gary said.
And for the next several years, the Parishers applied their education in a wide variety of areas: marketing, inventory control, human resources, finance. In each area, they found what they’d learned at AUM relevant.
The turning point
While Cheeriodicals were designed for adults in the hospital, the Parishers soon added new products for children, tailored by both gender and by age, and the demand for the children’s boxes proved strong.
But the biggest turning point for the business came in March 2012. “We were speaking with our financial consultant, a friend, at Northwestern Mutual,” Mary Martha said. “We discussed a one-of-a-kind idea of a community outreach event where every child at Children’s of Alabama would receive a Cherriodicals gift box from Northwestern Mutual. In that first event, we delivered a box to 238 children. We repeated the event later for the same company in Memphis, and we delivered a box to every child at St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Soon after, the concept of having the corporate employees assemble the gift boxes themselves as a corporate team building event emerged.”
“It’s when you deliver a box to a child that you really see the power of our original idea. There is so much emotion, from the kids, from their parents, from the people delivering the box. No one leaves an event unaffected.”
Large corporations are always looking for new ideas for team building events. Newsweek reported that the market for these events is more than $46 billion. There has been a growing trend toward events that bring the team together but also have an impact on the local community as well. Cheeriodicals fits that need perfectly. In fact, the events have proven so popular that the people who participate often end up volunteering more of their time to the hospitals involved.
Since 2012, Cheeriodicals has held more than 150 team-building events across the U.S. and Canada for some of the world’s largest companies, including Siemens, GE, Wells Fargo, Medtronic, Novartis and Anderson Windows & Doors. Many of these companies have engaged Cheeriodicals multiple times, and events range from 25 to 2,000 participants. In all, the company has delivered more than 40,000 Cheeriodicals to children’s hospital and other charities.
“We expanded again in 2016 to host events in Birmingham and Chicago that benefit veterans and military hospitals,” Gary said. “We’ve also added branded wagons for the Children’s Hospital events that can be left behind when the event is over. Those wagons have proven to be extremely popular.”
A million reasons to quit; the rewards come with persistence
According to Mary Martha, there are strong parallels between their time in school and running their own business.
“Finishing your education is a challenge, for anyone,” Mary Martha said. “You’re working, on top of going to class and doing the assignments. The school work itself is tough. It tests what you believe you are capable of. You know you’re going to get beat up along the way and you can always find a reason to quit, but the rewards for sticking it out are compelling. Life changing.
“It’s no different starting a business. Discovering the original idea was one thing, but that was only the start of the business challenges. We are constantly learning more about finance, inventory management, marketing, human resources — and at almost every turn, things we learned in school have direct application to the problems we are solving.
“Yes, it’s hard. But the rewards are so gratifying. I never imagined we’d end up running our own business, but the results, and not just the financial results, have been far beyond what we could have imagined.”
Taylor Center 101
7400 East Drive Montgomery, AL 36117
8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday - Friday
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People need your help to sustain a better life.
How high will YOU SOAR?
Develop and foster relationships with like-minded students that could last you a lifetime.
The international honors society in psychology.
If computer programming finds you indoors a lot, take time to chill outside for a stress-free adventure.
The adventure starts with your first class.
Join other biology majors in discussions, activities and research.
How high will YOU SOAR?
The next generation of conservationists, making an impact today.
The pre-health honor society, Alpha Epsilon Delta, provides community service and outreach experience.
Learn to harness technology for good
Formed by the College of Business, this club is open to all students and faculty. See the aspect of mathematics outside the traditional classroom setting.
Meet people in your field and network with peers.
Meet with students to share your thoughts on programming and the latest trends.
The world needs scientists like you.
Group members form thought groups and study partnerships as they work through the rigorous coursework of their future profession. Find opportunities to serve alongside your friends like walking to end Alzheimer’s Disease. Or get fit while joining your club in the American Cancer Relay for Life. You’ll stay active in this club and make life-long relationships.
Like-minded students have opportunities to work, learn and network together.
This club brings sustainability awareness throughout the Montgomery community.
You can be the solution to the world’s problems.
Experimentation Leads to Discovery.
Gregory J. Touhill
Director, Software Engineering Institute CERT Division
Gregory J. Touhill is director of the world-renowned CERT Division of the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute, where he leads a diverse group of researchers, software engineers, security analysts, and digital intelligence specialists working together to research security vulnerabilities in software products, contribute to long-term changes in networked systems, and develop cutting-edge information and training to improve the practice of cybersecurity.
Touhill was appointed by former President Barack Obama to be the first chief information security officer (CISO) of the United States government. Previously, he served in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications. Before joining the Software Engineering Institute, he was president of Appgate Federal, a provider of cybersecurity products and services to civilian government and defense agencies.
Touhill is a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force where he was an operational commander at the squadron, group, and wing levels. He served as a senior leader of military cybersecurity and information technology programs, culminating as the chief information officer of the United States Transportation Command, one of the nation’s 10 combatant commands. A combat veteran, he is the recipient of numerous awards and decorations including the Bronze Star medal and the Air Force Science and Engineering Award. He retired from the Air Force with the rank of brigadier general.
Touhill received his bachelor’s degree in political science (minor in engineering) from the Pennsylvania State University, a master’s degree in systems management from the University of Southern California, a master’s degree in strategic studies from the Air War College, and a certificate from the Harvard Kennedy School. He maintains both the CISSP and CISM certifications. He is an adjunct faculty member of the CMU Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy and the Deakin University (Australia) Centre for Cybersecurity Research and Innovation. A member of many organizational boards and committees and recipient of many awards, Touhill was recognized by Security Magazine as one of its Most Influential People in Security and by Federal Computer Week in the Federal 100. He is the co-author of the books Cybersecurity for Executives: A Practical Guide and Commercialization of Innovative Technologies.
You belong where relationships thrive.
Features networking events with guest speakers and great food. Helps aspiring students who want to start their own businesses.
Focuses on providing speakers working in financial areas to provide real-world advice and connections for internships and careers.
You are likely to find the AUM Investment Club discussing the hottest investment topics from Bitcoin to Warren Buffett over pizza and drinks. Activities include keynote speakers, stock portfolio competitions, and network with local investors. AUM Investments Club encourages academic achievement and provides an opportunity to learn from professionals about the many career choices offered to business administration graduates. For more information contact the club advisor, Dr. Tewhan Hahn, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (334) 244-3231.
The College of Business offers 10 student clubs and organizations that are active on the AUM campus and in the River Region all year long. Through these organizations, students are continually exposed to professional opportunities and experiences offered by some of the top companies in the U.S.
How high will you SOAR?
Join your friends who promote good study habits and academic success. Meet professionals in the field for networking opportunities.
Open to students and faculty who are interested in mathematics outside of the traditional classroom setting.
Hot investment topics like Bitcoin or Warren Buffett could be the theme of an AUM Investment Club meeting, where you’ll be part of the conversation over pizza and drinks. Other activities include keynote speakers, stock portfolio competitions, and networking with local investors.
Grubhub is the nation’s leading mobile food-ordering marketplace, with more than 20 million happy users! With Grubhub, you can order ahead from all AUM dining options and pick up your food. No waiting, no hassle!
Download the Grubhub app.
Select “Get Started” to set up your account
Once your account has been established select “Accounts” in the menu
Click the “Find Your Campus” button
Search for “Auburn University at Montgomery” in the search bar
Click the “Add Affiliation” button
Select the category that pertains to your status on campus
Click the “Add Campus Card” button
Enter your AUM email address and password
Click the “Sign In” button
Complete Duo authentication
Once your campus card is confirmed, click “Ok”
Select View Campus restaurants
Now you can place your order!
Navigate to the “My Grubhub” screen
Click on the “Account” icon
Select “Campus Dining”
Enter your AUM email address and password on MyAUM
Monday – Thursday | 11 A.M. – 8 P.M.
Friday | 11 A.M. – 4 P.M.
Monday – Thursday | 7:30 A.M. to 8 P.M.
Friday | 7:30 A.M. – 4 P.M.
Once you have registered, you may log in using your e-mail address and password.
– Click on Isolation & Quarantine Dining Support Venue.
– Choose a delivery location. This will be the isolation or quarantine building and room you are staying in.* Please do not enter your normal room and building assignment unless you are isolating/quarantining in that room.
– Please note orders must be placed by 11:59 pm CST the day before the delivery date.
– Please order all meals for Friday and Saturday by 11:59pm pm CST on Thursday.
– You are encouraged to order your meals up to 3-6 days in advance.
– Click continue.
– You will then be brought to the menu page.
– Please choose the meal and choices available from those listed.
– Click the add meal button.
– Repeat the above process to choose any additional meals for that same delivery time and day.
– Next click on view cart.
– Confirm your choices for accuracy. If you need to make a change please use the “Edit Order” button on the top.
– Select your payment method.
– You will see an order placed message.
– You will receive a confirmation email for your order. Please check your order for any errors.