Kids playing on soccer team
Baker Tilly Wishes

California dream

Boys & Girls Club of Buena Park, California

California dream | Baker Tilly Wishes
Partner Hank Kahrs’s mom ran a nursery school for 40 years. “I grew up surrounded by a sea of kids,” he said. Although Hank’s own sons are grown now, he still loves the energy he gets from working with young people. “As a forensic accountant, I’m kind of a grump,” he jokes, “but when I’m working with kids or playing music, it really gets me going.”

More on Hank’s love of music later, but it was his involvement with coaching and sports that first connected him to the Boys & Girls Club of Buena Park, California, the organization that will receive a 2021 Baker Tilly Wishes grant.

For years, Hank coached youth baseball and soccer, and he enjoys playing softball himself. It was a teammate of his, 15 years ago, who asked for Hank’s help with a thorny issue at the local Boys & Girls Club. “The board members suspected the CEO was stealing money,” said Hank, who was persuaded by his friend to get involved.

Hank used his forensic accounting skills to uncover the truth: severe financial abuse on the part of the club’s CEO. “It became our small-town story of the year,” said Hank. “The best part was, not only were we able to get the CEO fired, but we also recovered all the money he had stolen.”

Naturally, Hank was asked to join the board.

A haven for kids

Hank quickly became involved in the Boys & Girls Club, which provides a wide variety of educational and social services for children, including supporting homeless kids.

“The club has amazing mentorship programs for teens, and with remote schooling during COVID, has been responsive to the special needs of homeless kids who are living in motels or cars and don’t have access to computers or the internet,” said Hank. The club has set up computers for teens and partnered with local schools to provide extra academic support.

As an avid music fan with some connections to the music business, Hank began organizing annual gala fundraisers that featured some heavy hitters including Mike Viola (singer in the film “That Thing you Do”), Traffic’s Dave Mason, and the late, great Eddie Money.

That led to Hank’s own star turn. “One of my colleagues knew I played guitar and asked Eddie Money if I could go up and play a song with him. Eddie was unbelievable. I offered to introduce him, and he said, ‘No, you do this for the kids. I’m introducing you.’”

Bringing people together

Hank’s office in Orange, California, is a small group of Global Forensics and Litigation team members who will soon relocate to join their new California colleagues in Irvine. He has helped build a strong sense of community within his team, who have all become involved in the annual Boys & Girls Club events. In 2019, Hank’s team of eight spent Stewardship Day at the Boys & Girls Club, running team activities, teaching sportsmanship and generally having a great time.

“Not only was it fun for the kids, but it’s another way to bring our team closer together,” he said.

Hank also builds relationships with clients and prospects by inviting them to the club’s annual galas. “Many times, clients will end up donating to the cause, which is great. But even better is sharing in the event and the music. It helps brings us closer together and builds trust.”

Hank said the staff and board at the Boys & Girls Club of Buena Park are overjoyed with the gift. “They’ll be able to do a lot of good and mentor a lot of kids with this grant.”