Five metro Detroit couples who donate their time, energy, and resources to each other and their communities
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Strategic Staffing Solutions’ Cindy Pasky and Paul Huxley share a commitment to give of their time, talent, and money
By Sheryl James
In late July, a small, intimate group of people shared a luxurious dinner beneath a canopy placed in the middle of, well, a construction site. The dress was formal, the food was gourmet — and, of course, the dogs and cats were really cute.
This was “Pawte Cuisine,” a fundraiser held at what soon will be the Michigan Humane Society’s (MHS) new Detroit Animal Care Campus, located in the city’s North End neighborhood a few blocks away from its current facility — a former piston ring factory built in 1890.
Yes, that’s right. 1890. The dinosaur of a facility has served Detroit’s needy animals for nearly 100 years, and was still doing so as the 90 or so people relished their dinners at the new site, where they were encouraged to pick out one of those cute animals and take it home.
It didn’t take Cindy Pasky more than a few minutes to adopt a spaniel mix.
“I don’t think that dog’s feet ever touched the floor the rest of the night,” says Matthew Pepper, MHS president and CEO.
He wasn’t surprised. No one there was surprised. They all knew that Pasky, president and CEO of Strategic Staffing Solutions (S3) in Detroit, and her husband, Paul Huxley, S3 chairman, already had their share of rescued animals in their home — which they jokingly call the “wild kingdom.”
They also knew that the well-known and beloved couple had paid for this soiree, too. In return, guests were asked to donate $5,000 over the next five years to MHS’ “Hope Is Building” campaign.
“We wanted to have an event where people could make some significant contributions, but not everyone can afford to do that,” says Huxley, who is chairing the campaign. The five-year giving span “opened it up for more people.”
Pawte Cuisine is just another example of Pasky and Huxley’s level of commitment, Pepper says. The couple “is really passionate about animal welfare, but they feel it is not just an animal issue, it’s a community issue,” he says. “Even more is their passion for the city. Their passion permeates everyone around them. It makes everyone believe.”
That’s pretty high praise — and hardly unusual. Similar comments about Pasky, 55, and Huxley, 69, come from Tony Michaels, president and CEO of The Parade Company, which holds America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Every year, you’ll see an S3 float full of dogs and a lot of S3 volunteers. The Parade Company also conducts the Turkey Trot, which is a 10K run, and 5K, 1-mile run/walk. It takes place before the parade begins.
“We needed to find a new sponsor,” Michaels says. “I sent a quick email to Cindy one Sunday morning, and, I’m telling you, she wrote back immediately saying, ‘Absolutely interested, let’s talk very soon this week.’ By the end of the week, we had an agreement.”
The new name is now the “Strategic Staffing Solutions Turkey Trot.”
Michaels called Pasky and Huxley because he knew them, and he knew that few others had a stronger commitment to Detroit. They are, he says, “an amazing team. I see them at so many functions. If you go look at all the things going on in the city, Cindy and Paul make it a point to support so many of them. It’s endless.
“I’m sure they have to pick and choose,” he adds. “But it is amazing how many things you see their company name and their own names on — and they are all good things.”
Building up Detroit is key, Pasky says. “Paul and I believe that for a state to be successful, it has to have a very strong headquarters city.”
The couple also lives in Detroit. “Having been here, we have a very different perspective on how far the city has come and what it can do,” she says.
You could go all over town, gathering kudos and thanks to the couple from folks at places as diverse as an orphanage in Lithuania (where S3 has offices); a Detroit charter school; military veterans that S3 recruits, trains and employs; the Mounted Division of the Detroit Police Department; the Mariners Inn; Detroit Riverfront Conservancy; Reading Works! and many others.
As Michaels says, “They set the bar,” and the bar has been set high.
In 2014, S3 donated more than $1.4 million and “countless volunteer hours to charities globally,” according to its website. Since 2000, the figure is $8.5 million. This does not include what Pasky and Huxley donate as individuals, or their considerable time serving on various boards. (“Cindy is ahead of me on that,” Huxley says. “She has a very high energy motor.”)
Pasky and Huxley represent many generous metro Detroiters who give of their time, talent, and treasure, over and over it seems, so that the area, and Detroit in particular, prosper.
They also serve as role models for future donors, continuing a proud tradition of giving in Detroit that goes back decades.
To such people, giving is, as S3’s website puts it, “just part of our DNA.” That’s certainly what you could surmise about Pasky and Huxley. It seems as if they were born with the instinct to give.
Pasky grew up in Detroit, Westland, and then Plymouth, an only child in a middle class home. Her father, who worked for Burroughs Corporation, instilled in Pasky the notion that corporations have a civic responsibility to give to their communities.
After Pasky graduated from high school in 1978, both of her parents fell ill, “so I just went right to work,” she says. She was lucky to find a job as a programmer trainee in 1979 making $11.75 an hour, a huge rate for that time. She never found time for college after that, but she did find time to learn the world of business.
In 1990, Pasky founded S3, a “global information technology and business services company.” She located her business — where else — in Detroit. From its first year, the company has always turned a profit. It now has 31 branches in the U.S. and Europe, and posts more than $264 million in sales.
Huxley also is a native Detroiter. After high school, he attended classes at Central Michigan University and the University of Detroit; he also served in the Air National Guard. He founded his own company, Compass Inc.
After a few transactions between their then-small firms, Huxley and Pasky decided to merge them. It was after that move that they began to date; they married in 1994.
They enjoy their dogs and cats, and their favorite Detroit haunts: Wright & Company, the Tap Room at the Detroit Athletic Club, Detroit Tiger games, the Detroit Golf Club, and the cigar lounge at the London Chop House (Yes, they both smoke cigars).
Meanwhile, as the couple has grown S3, they’ve never lost sight of their shared commitments.
Perhaps most endearing in this couple’s philanthropic mindset is that individuals are as important as cities. Their recent aid to one formerly homeless gentleman who now works at S3 and operates his own charity is a good example.
Says Pasky: “If you are really sincere and thoughtful, you can find ways to have your company give people an opportunity to change their station in life.”
“There are so many organizations and people and animals that need talent, time, and money,” says Huxley. “To me, if you have any of those to give, why wouldn’t you?”