Bill and Brenda Roark were selected as the recipients of the 2023 Community Philanthropy Award presented annually by the Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville at the Summit on Philanthropy to recognize their indelible mark on the Greater Huntsville area. Their dedication to this community, demonstrated by their immense generosity, has not only inspired many but has also had an immense, positive impact across the region.
With the support of his family, Bill co-founded Torch Technologies in 2002 with the mantra of “doing things differently.” After six successful years, Torch Technologies was converted into a 100% employee-owned company. Bill ensured that discussions of generosity were included in this transaction and many individual Torch Technologies shareholders partnered with the Community Foundation for more than $1 million in charitable giving, with $744,000 of that amount contributed to the foundation through donor-advised funds. As an organization, Torch employee volunteers created a nonprofit organization called Torch Helps, partnering with the Community Foundation for a grant program which has provided hundreds of thousands in contributions to local charities from funds raised through payroll deduction, designated gifts, and corporate matching. Additionally, Torch Technologies provided the inaugural leadership gift of $150,000 to the Community Foundation to be the “Torchbearer” founding contributor to the Community Catalyst Fund (now Compass Society) as an investment in the region’s quality of life. This donation sparked the momentum to raise the $1 million required to endow the fund, which allows a continuing positive impact on this community in perpetuity.
Bill then led the charge to convert his 2014 company Freedom Real Estate & Capital’s remarkable success into another endeavor of generosity and employee empowerment with a second ESOP transaction. This innovative approach to business ownership has not only created financial security for countless families but has also cultivated a sense of ownership and pride among the employees.
Bill and Brenda commitment to generosity is also reflected in their daughters, Amy and Kaitlynn Roark, who followed in their parents’ philanthropic footsteps and co-founded Huntsville’s first giving circle, give256. This strategic generosity fund encourages philanthropy at all engagement levels and has become a powerful force for good in the community, amplifying the impact of many local nonprofit organizations.
Included in their many ventures in generosity, Bill and Brenda Roark have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the health and wellness of the Huntsville community, especially in recent years. Brenda’s courageous battle against breast cancer inspired her to co-chair the Liz Hurley Ribbon Run alongside her daughters. This annual event has become a beacon of hope for those affected by breast cancer, raising awareness and vital funds for research and support.
Bill embraced a proactive role in enhancing community health after experiencing firsthand the importance of quality healthcare as a cardiology patient at Huntsville Hospital. His involvement as co-chair of the Huntsville Classic showcases his dedication to ensuring that everyone in the community has access to exceptional healthcare services.
Bill and Brenda Roark chose Huntsville as their home, and in the four decades since this decision, they have poured their hearts and resources into the community they love. Their generosity and vision have not only elevated the standard of living for many local employees, but have also impacted the Greater Huntsville region through their philanthropy.
Bill and Brenda Roark epitomize the spirit of generosity, and their legacy is evident in the profound impact they have and will continue to have for generations to come as they harness the power of generosity and create a bright future for Greater Huntsville.