Tom Garrity

Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

A Different December: All Faiths Receiving Home

In Life on December 14, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Our Different December outreach today features an organization that was founded in 1956 by a group of concerned citizens who saw a need in their community for better care for vulnerable children.

All Faiths Receiving Home provides services to children and their families in a healthy environment which includes education, treatment, advocacy, food, clothing, affordable and safe housing, and supportive and nurturing care givers.

The Garrity Group’s Kristin Salazar identified the need to collect diapers for all sizes of baby and toddler diapers that will benefit guests of All Faith’s Receiving Home.  “All Faith’s Receiving Home is geared toward helping vulnerable children and their families. Upon making my phone call to them in effort to find out what toys they are in need of they notified me that above all else they are in desperate need of diapers. Now while children and families are discussing the hottest Christmas item they want to add to their Christmas list we sometimes forget that there is also a need for the basics; something that is a necessity for babies and toddlers everyday life. This made me put aside the idea of the toy drive and collect the necessities for these children.”

All Faiths Receiving Home is a nonprofit organization that relies on the support and donations of the community to enable it to provide services to its clients. To find out about other ways you can help, please visit

A Different December: Meals on Wheels

In Life on December 7, 2011 at 2:28 pm

While I seem to be doing a lot of travel over the past several months, The Garrity Group’s Different December outreach will focus on an organization that has been on the road for the past 39 years… Meals on Wheels.

Meals on Wheels of Albuquerque provides services that enable those who are unable to prepare their own meals to have a hot, healthy, well balanced meal delivered to their door Monday through Friday.

Meals on Wheels serves anyone of any age who is in need and offers special accommodations for 7 different diet types.  The program not only delivers a nutritional meal, but also a friendly smile at the client’s door.

Lindsey Collier, an assistant account executive with The Garrity Group “choose Meals on Wheels of Albuquerque because they serve a great need in our community by delivering hot healthy meals to people who are unable to prepare meals for themselves. Meals on Wheels prepares a variety of meal types catering to those with different nutritional needs. Their services are not only utilized by the elderly but also by people recovering from surgery who may only require their services for a few weeks.”

Today The Garrity Group will help prepare meals for the Meals on Wheels clients.

You can also help through a donation of $30, that will feed someone for one week, or volunteering your time by helping prepare and package food.

To find out more information on ways to help Meals on Wheels of Albuquerque please visit

A Different December: Ronald McDonald House Charities

In Life on December 5, 2011 at 1:34 pm

For the past six months, The Garrity Group team has been brainstorming different organizations to come along side and assist as a part of our inaugural Different December program.

The team identified eight organizations to assist in various ways, a full list can be found on our website in the Different December section.  In addition to our team, we wanted to raise awareness about these nonprofits and provide an opportunity to our clients and other friends of the firm to join us as a part of our outreach.

The first nonprofit we are assisting is a familiar organization, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of New Mexico.  Having served on their board for seven years, last two as chairman, their statewide outreach to families in crisis is one of many reasons we are coming along side to help.

Serving our state since 1982, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of New Mexico’s mission has remained constant: provide temporary affordable lodging and respite services to families with critically ill children.

The 30 rooms house, located adjacent to University Hospital, is a home to families who have seen their lives change in an instant.  In addition, families can also get some rest at University Hospital in the Ronald McDonald Family Room.

Today members of the TGG team will be making and serving dinner.  The menu includes: spaghetti, meatballs, salad, garlic bread and dessert.

How you can help: You can come down and help us prepare the meal (just let us know you are coming).  You can also help financially to support the organization through a contribution for a future meal or help with the current renovation of the House.  Here is the link with more information:

Thanksgiving with a twist…

In Life on November 24, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Spending Thanksgiving this year in Las Vegas, Nevada (being from New Mexico it is necessary to differentiate which Las Vegas).  We had a chance to work with my niece’s church, Calvary Chapel Spring Valley with their BlessFest event.

Blessfest is an outreach to those who are having a difficult time making ends meet or ended up somewhere in life they hadn’t really anticipated.

My job was to work transportation to ensure that guests getting off of the bus made it to the right area.  I, of course, made it a little bit more and turned into a mini welcoming committee.

What a great and encouraging time to welcome people, see them eye to eye and to provide encouragement.  Inside, they had a chance to take a shower, visit a hairdresser, get a manicure, visit a dentist and get a meal… among other things!

Between busses, I had a chance to send some tweets sharing a little bit about who I met and some general observations.

@Tom_Garrity An early morning and lots of volunteers at #blessfest #LasVegas

@Tom_Garrity Working transportation at #blessFest in #lasvegas

@Tom_Garrity Had a nice convo w/a guy named Paul who is at #Blessfest w his 2 kids, out of work for about 8 months.

@Tom_Garrity Paul is a carpenter says he helped to build many of #lasvegas casinos, no more to build for now. He is thankful for health and family

@Tom_Garrity People getting off busses all with different needs some with all of their belongings.

@Tom_Garrity A lot of thankful and a humble people here, another van just arrived #blessfest

@Tom_Garrity Seven people on the last van. A daughter and her father, ppl in 20s 50s and 60s … big bus just arrived

@Tom_Garrity Nearing 1,000 ppl served and it isn’t even 8am in #lasvegas #blessfest

@Tom_Garrity Met a guy named Tim from Colorado Springs he has lived in 47 states and is here getting treatment for an illness.

@Tom_Garrity Another person named Russ is an avid USC fan tho he talked more about LSU and Alabama #blessfest

@Tom_Garrity A young mom, about 22 has flipflop and her feet are black from being on the streets

@Tom_Garrity Just high-5’d a grandma and she hits hard! #blessfest

@Tom_Garrity So, who serves these folks the other 364 days? Another van is here…

@Tom_Garrity A nice man named Norman has lived in a lot places but is glad that he is in #LasVegas today. #blessfest

@Tom_Garrity Met a lady named Kathy who is originally from Ohio and has lived in #LasVegas since coming out here to take care of her mom. #blessfest

@Tom_Garrity Kathy has been without a job for a while now and is moved to tears by the thought of free dental care and a good meal.

@Tom_Garrity Another woman named Liza is here with here three kids, another mom just showed up pushing g a twins stroller #blessfest #lasvegas

@Tom_Garrity Another person named John moved to #LasVegas from #LosAngeles 9 years ago and lost everything when you the real estate market crashed.

@Tom_Garrity This is fun, sharing some tips with other volunteers on how to start conversations with strangers! #blessfest

@Tom_Garrity A nice young woman named Cindy is here at #blessfest she calls LasVegas home and is looking forward to free dental exams.

@Tom_Garrity Another person just came out holding some teeth that were just pulled says he is thankful for the pain to be gone #waituntilthenovacainw …

@Tom_Garrity Our time at #Blessfest is done, a great way to start the day with a different perspective.

Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

Yahoo “Free” Popcorn

In Life on June 13, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Anyone who follows me on Foursquare knows I enjoy free, or almost free, offers from stores, restaurants, shows… heck anything that is within reason.

Case and point, on a recent trip to New York City I was able to get free stuff from the Hershey Chocolate Store in Times Square and at the Broadway Show Billy Elliott. 

To “unlock” those free deals, I used a free social media program called Foursquare.  The process is very simple: You check-in via the Foursquare App, the check-in unlocks the offer, show your phone to cashier and voila!  One click, it is simple.

This weekend, I went to check out Pirates of the Caribbean 4 (a fun movie).  While I passed by and didn’t notice the Yahoo Sign in the lobby, my brother-in-law was not as fortunate.  Lured by the QR Code and the promise of free popcorn, he was hooked.

However, getting the popcorn was not a simple process.  First you scan the QR Code, that sends you to a special webpage.  After you sign-in via Facebook and give them the right to post things on your wall, you then have to “like” the Yahoo Free Popcorn fan page on Facebook, then check-in at Regal Cinema.  At that point, you need to find a knowledgeable popcorn clerk (good luck) who can then grant you the prize.

Based on the cool reception my brother-in-law received, coupled with a rather clueless response from the popcorn clerk and manager, it is clear that not a lot of people have taken advantage of this “free” offer.

The winner in this Free Popcorn offer is clearly “Yahoo”, they get the real estate for promoting their name.  The loser is the customer who gets frustrated and by-passes the expensive artery clogging product… so I guess that makes the loser the winner!?!

Moral of the story: one-click.  Make it simple.

Casey at the Bat (with a speech)

In Life on May 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm

This is the season when school speeches are prepared.  Each provide some unique insight to a period of time and a small bit of prognosticating for the future. My youngest daughter, Casey, recently completed a speech that was considered for her 8th grade ceremony.  While another was selected, fatherly pride got the best of me and I wanted to share her effort (a great effort) with you.

Welcome and thank you for attending this special event. As the student body, we are so thankful for all parents, family members, and teachers. We couldn’t have made it through middle school if it weren’t for your support and guidance. Teachers, we think of you as our gateway to education. You help us understand homework and make us smile when we’re down. Most importantly, you help us to reach the next level in our education. Thank you. Mothers, fathers, great friends and family members, we think of you as our moral guidance. Telling us right from wrong and helping us with our issues. We students are so thankful for your support through our middle school years.

We have learned so much as students. So well done, eighth graders, for completing some pretty tough years of middle school. The past years are so memorable, from Mr. Guy’s hilarious jokes to Ms. Bapty’s never-ending exams. I’m so glad that I could have you all as my classmates.

Apple Mountain 2008 was a great trip to learn about ourselves and our new classmates. Learning new things about myself that I never knew before was the most memorable part for me. All of the sixth graders sitting inside on a rainy night, holding candles and letting loose of our feelings. This moment was very emotional toward many of my classmates including me. I felt like I really learned a lot then. The other activities were also great, while the weather changed from hot to cold to rainy and back to hot and then to gloomy again. The constant change during that trip provided us a taste for the change we would expect for the remaining of our middle school experience.

Ten years ago I can remember sitting at my window waiting for my dad to return from New York City so our family could go to the State Fair. The built up excitement, anticipated exhilaration, and the thoughts of having fun raced through my head. I couldn’t wait. Like the State Fair, I know that so many of us are so excited to be in high school already. But I hope that we don’t take high school as something we’re so excited for that we don’t live for the moment. High school will be memorable, that’s for sure, but I hope that we’ll live for life one day at a time.

September 11th, 2001. A fearful and memorable date for many people. We think of the bad and the sorrow that happened instead of looking into today. For me, it was waiting for my dad to get back home from New York City, which he did several weeks later.  Since that date, a whole lot has changed in this world. Back then it was the event that we thought of, today it’s the relief of Osama Bin Laden’s death. But how will these feelings affect our future? We find ourselves worrying about things like this that aren’t in our control. We fear that the future will hold events like this for us to be concerned about. So what do we do? The only thing we can- look to the future and hold responsibility for the choices that lay there for us. Like high school, for example. There will be trials and decisions that we will be looked at to deal with. All we can do is to keep going and to be conscientious about the next four years. The world is changing fast. Every event and understanding that we’ve experienced whether is it on the global, national or local level will impact us as of today on.

I’m going to read a favorite quote of mine by Al Gore written in 2005. “My bet is that thirty years from now, you won’t have any idea what was said here, but you will remember the parties tonight. You will remember your families being here, you will remember the hard work that got you to this point, and you’ll remember how you felt. And I hope you feel great, because this is a remarkable achievement we are honoring here today.” Al Gore has carved us a path. We’re not only celebrating an end, but looking forward to a beginning. Our slates are clean, and our mind’s are prepared, so let’s make it happen. Let’s put in our all for a great four years of high school. No matter what happens, never give in. Never let go of your potential because you all have a lot of it. Our biggest obstacle next year will be ourselves. So I wish the good and the bad to you. Fall down and get back up, make a mess clean it up, and maybe make another one. Our lives aren’t over until we stop trying.

Our middle school years are past, taking along some of our young memories. Eighth Graders- You’ve matured now and moved on, and made space for new experiences. You’ve tested, written essays, done your homework (sometimes succeeding from the dog getting to it), and you’re prepared for the future. Class of 2015- Congratulations on finishing a fabulous middle school.

Yup, that’s my girl!

Vista Award Speech

In Life on May 4, 2011 at 4:04 am

On May 3, 2011 I was honored to be presented the Vista Lifetime Achievement Award by the New Mexico Public Relations Society of America.  This was my acceptance speech:

One year during Balloon Fiesta, I think it was 1998, I wanted to have a way to show the color of the Fiesta to the national and international media after the balloons had landed.  We had developed this elaborate backdrop from an old balloon envelope, draped it from the top of the tent to the back of the stage.  Since there was so much extra fabric, we covered parts of the stage for effect. 

It was the first year we had regular press briefings at the event; we’d talk about the number of balloons launched, have guest speakers, things of that nature.  Well the person I had just introduced to the microphone was bigger than me and I remember the person was taking a more middle of the road approach to the podium instead of yielding so I could sneak by.  I decided to make a wider than usual exit.  But, because the balloon envelope was draped across the back of the stage it was impossible to figure out where the stage ended and air began.

I took one step, then two, making contact with the stage.  The third step was nothing but air.  The next thing I remember was being cocooned in a balloon envelope, in this nook between the stage and the back of the tent and hearing a collective “gasp” from the 30-40 media in attendance.  All of that to say, I tend to avoid stages, elaborate backdrops and memorable exits.

Thank you to the New Mexico Public Relations Society of America for the Vista Award.  While my interactions with Lee and Marie Hirst were limited, I am truly humbled to be included in a recognition that includes New Mexico’s first family of public relations and so many other practitioners whom I’ve called upon in the past.  I respect them more than they will ever know.

One thing Lee loved to do was run.  It is a passion which I’ve successfully avoided for 46 years. Completing two marathons and two half marathons over an eight month period, recently provided some insight as to why Lee loved it.  It helps to clear the mind and prioritize.  It also helps to provide a great metaphor for what we do, collectively, for our clients.  We help them to run in such a way as to win, to finish the race.  There are many different ways and speeds which you can run.  Like running, campaigns run their course, events end and a marathon is always 26.2 miles.  We do what we do because it is our passion.

How do we define what it is we do?  There use to be an ad for Porter Novelli that read “not even my mother understands what I do.”  Well it must not have been my mother, because she understands and does quite well with her own “PR.” How do we describe it to someone who doesn’t know?  I’ve often use the phrase “its one beggar showing another beggar where to get food.”

Or in the words of fictional character Leo McCarry, who was chief of staff in the long running show The West Wing, describes: This guy’s walkin’ down a street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out. A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, “Hey you! Can you help me out?” The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole, and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, “Father, I’m down in this hole; can you help me out?” The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by. “Hey, Joe, it’s me. Can ya help me out?” And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, “Are ya stupid? Now we’re both down here.” The friend says, “Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.”

For me, it is a great privilege to help people when they are in that hole, in the midst of a crisis.  The families of Ana Marie Regino Martinez, Matt Propp, Joe Vigil, Dr. Daniel Ronel; organizations that include the Balloon Fiesta, Furrs Supermarket, Calvary Chapel, First Community Bank and the Kirtland Partnership Committee through two BRAC hearings; as well as a host of other people and organizations I can’t mention that allowed me to provide insight when they were in the midst of their waterloo.

The biggest threats to our industry are best fought with transparency, ethics and integrity.  The enemy is found in complacency and relevancy.

Sometimes relevancy just looks at us straight in the face.  Such was the case as a cub reporter in Billings, Montana.  My assignment, cover a revival being led by the Reverend Billy Graham.  I went and covered the event and came back to edit my story.  When finalizing the sound bite to use, I called in the evening anchor, a salty newsie who was also a member of the John Birch Society.  I played for him the sound bite of John 3:16 “That God so Loved the World that he sent his only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  The anchor took a drag from his cigarette and asked, “that’s it?!”  I said, yeah.  That is a message as relevant today as it was more than two thousand years ago.
As long as we are relevant, we are part of the discussion and have a seat at the table.

Thank you to the current members of The Garrity Group Public Relations for enjoying Jimmy Buffet songs and making our office a fun place to work.  I covet your perspective and professionalism.  Also, thank you to our Garrity Group alumni, your continued contributions to the profession provide motivation as I continue to celebrate your successes.

Finally tonight, it is a gift to have my wife Jackie and our two daughters Emily and Casey here… thank you for not changing the locks on the front door!

My mom is here and my dad, while in Houston is here in spirit.  I am also blessed to have extended family and friends in the audience tonight. 

Thank you for this honor and good night.

GPS: The Importance of Faith

In Life on April 23, 2011 at 4:31 pm

The conclusion of Easter and Passover, provides a moment for many people to reflect on the importance of faith in their personal lives. 

New Mexico has a very diverse “faith” history.  Native American Spirituality, Spain’s quest to promote the Catholic religion, the rich Jewish history in our state, a growing base of Eastern religions and the long established Christian outreach to people in urban and rural areas is a hint of how important faith is in New Mexico.

Curious about the importance of faith in the lives of New Mexico residents, my public relations firm ask a question on the topic in our recently completed Garrity Perception Survey.

The question was simple, “what is the importance of faith in your personal life?”  It didn’t focus on a specific religion, theology, practice, mantra, belief (or lack there of) or relationship.  The possible responses were very important, fairly important, not very important and don’t know/won’t say.

Overwhelming, New Mexico residents responded that faith is very important (74 percent) in their personal life.

Hispanic’s rely on faith more than Anglo residents and women more so than men.

New Mexico residents in the age ranges of 35-49 years and over 60 years of age rely more on it than other age groups.

Republicans outpace democrats; but democrats rely on faith more than both independent and nonregistered voters.

The connection between income and faith is interesting.  New Mexico residents who are “in the middle” rely on more faith than those with higher and lower incomes.

While it is interesting to see how faith is viewed in different parts of New Mexico, I found it particularly interesting that Albuquerque residents have the lowest reliance on faith in our state.

Cassie Bernall, a victim of the Columbine High School tragedy, relied on her personal faith, choosing death instead of compromising her belief.  As I reflect on the results of this question, I wonder how many of the 74% that replied “very important” would be willing to make the same sacrifice as Cassie. 

Yes, there are some questions that just can’t be answered in a survey.

Peace and Quiet

In Life on October 5, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Whenever the weather would turn stormy the skies above my childhood house got noisy with low flying aircraft.

We couldn’t do anything about it, the house was under an alternate flight path for Houston Intercontinental Airport.

While those plane engines all but drowned out the noise of our dog’s breathing, the sounds couldn’t hold a candle to the noise made when opening a bag of Sun Chips.

Much to the dismay of 5 year old boys, Frito Lay announced it would be discontinuing the 100% compostable bags.

Think of biodegradable bags like the Tablet PCs released several years ago.  They didn’t catch on.  Fast forward, make some tweaks, find the right target audience and you have key ingredients for an iPad success.

Where did Frito Lay’s process fail that it allowed the Sun Chips packaging to become so loud and obtrusive that it dwarfed the sound of its product?

While that question will be the focus of business school case studies, here is my perspective.  In the rush to be “green” and friendly to moms who make the buying decisions in families, Frito Lay might have rushed its own internal processes to be first to market.

The first to market doesn’t always win, unless it is supported by sound research.

The 365 Day Full Moon

In Life on September 16, 2009 at 1:55 am

fullmoonIs it just me, or does it seem like there has been a full moon for the last 365 days?

Some of the most memorable recent highlights include:

A Federally funded program giving advice on how to start brothels using non-resident minors.

Elected officials heckling other elected officials.

A body of elected officials deciding to take a break from a healthcare debate, which has grown gaggles of hecklers, to wag a finger at a heckler who heckled on national television.

A major daily newspaper has a managing editor selling advertising space.

One music star grabs the microphone from music star from a different genre during her acceptance speech at nationally televised awards show.

A well known tennis icon tells a line judge where to put the ball in a fashion that would make John McEnroe blush.

Pundits say the economy has stabilized but to expect continued job losses and high unemployment rates for years.

All of these “items of the odd” have three common ingredients: ego, greed and panic.

What is the solution?  Perhaps we can take a page from kindergarten and mandate “nap time” so we can all recalibrate and refocus on the important things.

If that doesn’t work, perhaps congress can pass a law declaring the words “do over” as a reasonable form of reconciliation whenever people make really stupid decisions.