Community is one of our core values, and it comes to the forefront this time of year. Today is Giving Tuesday, a day set aside to focus on ways we can all give back. We wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some of the ways our team has been giving back this year and encourage everyone to volunteer this holiday season.
In order to enact and inspire our core values with our employees, we offer up to eight additional hours of paid vacation for volunteer activities. So far, our team has donated more than 250 hours of community service. Each team member found a cause that fit their interests and skills, and no two projects were alike.
Brian Koerner, Director Business Development, worked with Project Healing Waters, an organization that focuses on the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans. Engineering Solutions teamed up with Jack Brown’s, Billy Jacks, Sustainable Solutions, and Mossy Creek Fly Fishing to sponsor one of the veterans for a day of fly fishing. This was our third year of sponsoring this great event.
Brian also participates in the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club with his wife, Christy. They are USFS-certified chainsaw operators and volunteer throughout the year to help keep the trails in their national forest clear. They also adopted a trail on the Massanutten range that they help clear at least four times a year.
Troy, Director of Structural Engineering in Harrisonburg, spent two weeks in Puerto Rico this February helping rebuild after Hurricane Maria. He and his son and both went on the trip and worked under Christian Aid Ministries with a group from Rockingham County. Projects ranged from a new roof to a full rebuild of a house. “The houses are fairly small by U.S. standards but the look on the faces of the locals when they have a dry place to call home makes the service worthwhile,” said Troy.
Rachel Beachy, Director of Marketing, has volunteered with Literacy Volunteers of Charlottesville/Albemarle this year. She meets with an adult ESL student for weekly lessons to help the student learn to speak, write, and read English more fluently. This fall, they took a field trip to Monticello together to learn more about Charlottesville’s local history and apply some of the skills they have been working on.
“Before we went, my student read a biography written in English about Thomas Jefferson on her own,” Rachel said. “During the tour, she asked the tour guide a couple questions in front of a large group. Seeing her confidence improve and how she is able to interact with others in ways she wasn’t comfortable doing so before makes me proud.”
In November, Valerie Hill, Senior Structural Engineer, volunteered with the Children’s Tumor Foundation. She was asked to speak about her experiences growing up with a sister with Neurofibromatosis (NF) at a fundraising event in Washington, D.C.
“This organization is close to my heart since my sister suffers from NF,” Valerie said. “I want to help in any way possible to getting closer to finding a cure for NF. The way I can make a difference is sharing my experiences and spreading awareness to our community.”
Valerie also spearheaded our fundraiser for the Children’s Tumor Foundation last year, which raised $1,700 to find a cure for NF. “As an engineer, I’m a problem solver. A fixer. I’ve had to accept that I cannot fix my sister, but I can raise awareness through local events around my community, and that’s what I’m focusing on.”
Tom McLaughlin, Director of Structural Engineering in Charlottesville, volunteers by sitting on the board of directors of the Cville Babe Ruth Baseball League. As the treasurer, he is responsible for overseeing the league’s finances and fundraising activities. The league is a place where kids of all abilities can continue their baseball days past little league without the considerable time and expensive commitment to travel leagues. The league’s goal is to eventually be a “pay what you can” league in order to break the monetary barrier to youth sports.
These are just a few examples of how our team has used their talents and personal interests to give back to the community this year. We are thankful for the areas we live in and for all the partnerships we’ve formed in our communities, and we look forward to continuing to live our core value of community in 2019.