Gina Six Kudo, general manager for Cochrane Road Self Storage, was one of four recipients of this year’s Inside Self-Storage Humanitarian Service Award. The honor recognizes self-storage companies and professionals who support charitable causes. A $2,000 grant was given to the non-profit organizations, projects, events or programs endorsed by the winners.
A community activist at heart, Gina Six Kudo hasn’t limited her involvement to just one charity. The general manager of Cochrane Road Self Storage (CRSS) in Morgan Hill, Calif., has helped a myriad of community members, including an injured goose who landed in the right place at the right time.
Although allergic to many types of animals, Kudo longed to help her town’s native critters. Two events led to her involvement with the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center (WERC). With the encouragement of her bosses, Kudo joined the local chamber of commerce, where she happened to meet Sue Howell, WERC’s executive director. Then came the injured goose, which landed at CRSS and needed rescuing. Kudo called her new friend, and the goose was safely captured.
Soon, a partnership formed between the two women, and CRSS became one of WERC’s biggest supporters, providing items for silent auctions and storage space for educational items and fundraising supplies. Kudo and her husband, Steve, even created and maintain the organization’s website at www.werc-ca.org.
These three baby Great Horned Owls were fostered and released several months after they were found. Photo courtesy of Colleen Grzan.
“Gina believes in the work we are doing and chooses to give her time and resources to us,” says Howell, one of two people to nominate Kudo for the ISS award. “We are fortunate to be one of the many charities she supports.”
CRSS opened in 1997 and doubled in size by 2001. Kudo calls the facility “my home in my community. I treat it as such, and all our customers are treated as guests arriving in our home.”
The facility owners, Charles Toeniskoetter, Daniel Amend and William Kenney, have always encouraged Kudo to be active in the community. “We have always strived to be an integral part of our city,” Kudo says.
Bobcat Gilda was rescued as an orphaned kitten and cared for by surrogate mothers: humans in costume who mimicked Bobcat behavior so she wouldn't become habituated to humans. Photo courtesy of James Mohs.
CRSS was awarded the “Business of the Year” award in 2002 by the chamber of commerce for community involvement. “Considering each year there are some pretty large, very community-active corporate entities in the running, we were extremely honored to be selected for the award,” says Kudo.
In addition to her involvement with WERC, Kudo has participated in numerous charitable organizations and drives, including the collection of back-to-school clothes and backpacks for underprivileged children, toy drives, troop-support programs and charity Christmas parties. “We will usually donate a storage unit for their use, or for use as a raffle/auction prize, or we do a sponsorship or whatever we can within the scope of our budget and other resources available to us.”
“Gina exemplifies all the qualifications for what an ISS Humanitarian Service Award honoree is considered to be,” says friend Laura Brunton, who also nominated Kudo for the award.
Although her community involvement does have public-relations value for CRSS, Kudo says she doesn’t do it for the recognition. “If that is all someone is thinking, they’ll gain a little traction, but it won’t be the absolute, positive, feel-good, look-good to the public effect they are seeking. Charitable work is work, but I believe it must also come straight from the heart,” she says. “The events are always filled with graciousness, warmth, sharing, laughter and the occasional tears, and that is what makes it all worth the effort.”
For more information, call 408.782.8883; visit www.cochranestorage.com.
[Left] WERC's educational red-tailed hawk, Wapeka, gets attention during an outdoor children’s program. Photo courtesy of WERC. [Right] Wildlife volunteer Suzanne Perry releases a Golden Eagle that was rehabilitated at WERC. Photo courtesy of WERC.