Employee volunteerism: Mel’s story
Mel Williams, Alyeska’s Business Practice Officer/Employee Concerns Program Manager, is a longtime volunteer with Bridge Builders of Anchorage and has served as president since fall 2010. The organization was established in 1996. Bridge Builders is dedicated to making Anchorage a safer, friendlier city.
Mel, how long have you been involved in Bridgebuilders and in what capacity? I joined Bridge Builder in the spring of 2007 as a member of the board representing Alyeska. In the fall of 2010, I assumed the role of president and continue to serve as president.
What makes you passionate about the organization? Their desire for unity and harmony among all people that reside in Anchorage and neighboring cities, coupled with the activities and events that bring people from all backgrounds together in harmony and respect.
What do you want others to know about the work of Bridge Builders? I think everyone in Anchorage should be aware of the vision and pledge of Bridge Builders.
Bridge Builders Vision is “To make Anchorage the first city without prejudice as the first step to eliminate racism in Alaska.”
Bridge Builders Pledge of Mutual Respect is, "We the people of Anchorage, Alaska, pledge to respect one another, celebrating the differences that make us unique: our customs, spiritual beliefs, cultures, colors, dreams and ancestral traditions. Standing together, hand in hand, young and old, we affirm that through mutual respect we can build a stronger, more harmonious community, a more unified nation and a better, safer world."
How does your involvement with the organization align with your role at Alyeska? As the Business Practice Manager, I work to resolve work difference and conflicts with employees in the organization to help Alyeska be a safe and productive company in our community. With that, we promote an Open Work Environment, respect for one another and we celebrate the diversity that every employee contributes to make Alyeska an employer of choice.
Employee volunteerism: Betty’s story
Betty McIntosh is a public relations coordinator on the Valdez Marine Terminal and also a volunteer with the Valdez Native Youth Olympics team. NYO is an annual contest where kids from across the state come to compete in ten events based on traditional Alaska Native games.
Betty, tell us about Native Youth Olympics. What does the organization do? Native Youth Olympics started in 1972. There are 10 events that test the hunting and survival skills along with agility, strength, endurance and the balance of the mind and body. This friendly competition is Alaska Native based culturally, but the competition is open to all ethnic backgrounds. The State Native Youth Olympics Competition brings together over 500 students from all over Alaska ranging from grades 7 to 12 to compete and demonstrate their skills. The state competition is usually a three-day event that takes place at the end of April.
Why is it important to have an organization like NYO in our community? At the Native Youth Olympics – even though it is a competition – you see competitors help each other out in whatever event they are competing in. You don’t see this kind of camaraderie at other sporting events. Also, because these events are part of the Alaska Native culture, it is nice to keep the Olympics alive in all the communities to share traditions with the youth. This heritage-based event is good to share not only with the Alaska Native students, but with other non-native students as well.
Why is this organization important to you? I originally started helping out with the Valdez Native Youth Olympics team because my son joined and I wanted help him do well. I’ve gotten to know the students over the years, and have made friends with other coaches from around Alaska. It is nice to come together once a year to talk about how their year was in the different villages and to catch up with life in general. Also, we have grown from a relatively small team to a pretty large team. I ask coaches Morrison and Cockerham if they need any help and they usually do. I enjoy spending time with the students, getting to know them and helping them out to be their best for the State Competition. I want all of our youth to do their best in whatever they are doing. This last season, a Valdez High School student set a World Record in the One Foot High Kick. She also holds a first place in the Eskimo Stick Pull with one of our junior high students holding second. Another high school student scored first in the Indian Stick Pull. Our team did awesome this year!
Alyeska committed to the next generation of TAPS employees
Given Alyeska’s commitment to workforce development — and the reality of many in the workforce nearing or reaching retirement age — it is natural that Alyeska would support many student activities focused on STEM education. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math curriculum.
For example, Alyeska’s philanthropy program enables high schools throughout the Fairbanks North Star Borough to participate in the Alaska State Robotics Championships.
“Robotics is hands-on engineering,” said Fairbanks North Star Borough School District Curriculum and Instruction Executive Director Peggy Carlson. “Through the development and construction of robots, students apply the four main aspects of engineering: 3D drawing and design, mechanisms and linkages, electronics and circuit construction, and computer programming. Participating in this program, students have the opportunity to explore and experience a variety of engineering fields and then refine and focus their educational goals to develop workforce skills that support their field of interest.”
Alyeska also sponsored the National Ocean’s Sciences Bowl this year. Engineering Director Brian Tuminello helped with the weekend event in Seward where students built remote-operated oil skimmers and answered tough science and engineering related questions in a quiz competition.
“There were many high school students from across the state, and it was pretty exciting to see their knowledge of ocean science,” Tuminello said. “I was impressed! It was great to observe the next generation of engineers and scientists at work.”
Alyeska philanthropy reaches rural residents
Alyeska Pipeline supports many statewide programs, paying particular attention to the pipeline corridor — the towns and communities along the 800 mile TAPS route, originating in Prudhoe Bay and culminating in Valdez. Outreach in the southern pipeline corridor includes residents living in and around Salcha, Delta Junction, Ft. Greely, Glennallen and Copper Center.
In 2009, Alyeska joined forces with the Fairbanks Concert Association to bring a performing group to Delta. From this modest beginning grew an awesome partnership between Alyeska, the Delta Library Association and the Fairbanks Concert Association. By last year, it grew to include activities in Fort Greely, Fort Wainwright and several performances a year in Delta. Another sponsor jumped on the wagon to help bring performers to Healy and the Parks Highway.
“With annual support from Alyeska, our library horizons have expanded in many new directions,” said Delta librarian Joyce McCombs. “World class musicians now travel to Delta Junction to perform, and each year we've added books, audios and movies to our collection. Authors, speakers and educators have presented a wide variety of highly anticipated and very well attended programs. The Delta Community Library's partnership with Alyeska simply defines success.”
Seeing the enthusiasm of these rural residents for FCA performances, Alyeska agreed to underwrite the first ever outreach of the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival (FSAF). On July 16-18, the string quartet Sweet Plantain will travel to Salcha, Delta, Kenny Lake, and the Black Rapids Lodge on the Richardson Highway for brief performances followed by workshops.
Other recent outreach to southern communities includes Delta’s Partners for Progress workforce development, the Kenny Lake Library summer literacy program, Entrepreneur’s Day at Kenny Lake School and Copper Basin Senior Citizens, and the Salcha fair.
Employee volunteerism: Tina’s story
Alyeska Quality Manager Tina Suellentrop is an active Habitat for Humanity volunteer. Habitat for Humanity builds houses for families in need in Alaska and around the country.
How long have you been involved in Habitat for Humanity and in what capacity? I have been affiliated with HFH since 2004. I was part of the initial crew who opened the Habitat for Humanity ReSstore in 2004. I’ve donated many hours of my time at the ReStore, which helped keep the operating costs down as the store was first getting started.
What makes you passionate about the organization? I’m passionate about Habitat because you can see how it is possible to change the lives of a family by helping them build a home they are proud of. Meeting the families of Habitat and hearing their stories convinced me their vision of “Building Homes, Building Hope, Changing Lives” was truly possible. I have been especially touched by hearing the stories from the children who have been blessed by moving into a Habitat home.
What do you want others to know about the work of Habitat? The Habitat organization does not give away homes to those in need. Rather, it identifies families who are qualified to based on need, and teaches them how to be financially responsible to maintain the home they purchase. The families are required to accomplish 600 hours of sweat equity on their homes as part of their commitment and willingness to partner with Habitat. HFH Anchorage has built 66 homes in the Anchorage area.
The Habitat ReStore is a retail business which sells donated new and used building materials, electrical fixtures, appliances, kitchen cabinets, and more – at greatly reduced prices. The income generated from a ReStore is used to support Habitat's mission of building homes for families in order to eliminate substandard housing in Anchorage. ReStore also benefits the community by keeping reusable items out of the landfill and providing a source for discounted materials for "do-it-yourself" home improvement projects.
How does your involvement with the organization align with your role at Alyeska? Habitat for Humanity believes in improving the community in which they operate by building sustainable homes. They also provide education for their families so they can make sound decisions for their future. Alyeska operates with the same goals of improving the communities in which we operate and making good decisions for TAPS for the future of the State of Alaska. By donating my time and resources to Habitat, I’m able to help improve my community and change the lives of a few families forever.
Alyeska & the American Heart Association: a great partnership
With active chapters in Fairbanks and Anchorage, employees at both locations have lined up to attend the popular Go Red for Women Luncheon and join teams for the Heart Walk and Heart Run. This year, Alyeska enjoyed the unique distinction of being a “Red Boa Sponsor” for these fundraising events.
“We truly value our partnership with Alyeska Pipeline Service Company,” said Lisa Sauder, Executive Director, American Heart Association. “As a statewide sponsor for Go Red for Women, Alyeska has shown their commitment to the American Heart Association in many ways. Well beyond the financial support they provide as a corporation, their employees are giving of their time and talent as well.
When Alyeska staff didn’t have on-the-clock time to put together an Anchorage Heart Walk team in 2011, employees Cyndi Strickland and Angela Walters took on the challenge and worked on it in their free time.
“Alyeska was recognized last year as the top corporate team for the Anchorage Heart Walk,” Sauder said. “Top walker Angela Walters and team captain Cyndy Strickland dedicated their time and effort to help us fight the No. 1 killer of all Americans. Thank you to Alyeska and their employees for their generosity.”
In Fairbanks, in addition to helping sponsor the gala Go Red event, Alyeska is active in the annual spring Heart Walk. Documentation Specialist Richelle Talvi has spearheaded the auction booth at the Heart Walk for the past four years.
This spring, Security Officer Anita Maas felted and cut out fabric hearts and challenged co-workers to make items to sell at the booth. All the money raised from the auction is used for heart research which, Talvi added, is the No. 1 killer in America. The 2012 auction raised $1,700, all of which was credited to Talvi’s Alyeska HeartWalk team.
“Don’t forget to mention we also auction off a parking space in the company parking lot to raise money for the Heart Association,” Talvi said.
Employee Volunteerism: Don’s story
Don Poulos is a Planner Scheduler in Alyeska’s Project Controls group. In his free time, he volunteers with the Koniag Education Foundation, which provides scholarships and educational support to shareholders of the Koniag region. Alyeska funds some scholarships administered through KEF.
What is your involvement with KEF? I have worked on the Development Committee for two and a half years and have served as a “super mentor” for more than 20 young people, supporting them as students and as young professionals.
What makes you passionate about the organization? Being from Kodiak….. the mission of KEF is “to help our people achieve their potential through education” and the people they are helping are the Alutiiq people, of which I am a member. This foundation helps to train and education our future leaders.
What do you want others to know about the work of KEF? Education is essential to our people, our communities and our economy. In just over 15 years, KEF has awarded more than $2.7 million in scholarships and grants to our Alutiiq people.
How does your involvement with the organization align with your role at Alyeska? Alyeska provides funding for Alaska Native training, education and internships in preparation for careers on TAPS. This funding is strategically focused to increase the pool of qualified Alaska Native applicants in specific job categories. KEF partners with Alyeska to provide matching scholarship funds to Alutiiq students who are studying in Alaska in the oil industry.
Alyeska employees step up and serve
Dozens of Alyeska employees give time and energy to Alaska non-profits – from school PTAs to food banks to statewide leadership organizations.
About 40 employees in 2011 logged 50 or more hours of volunteer times to organizations in their communities and qualified for Alyeska’s volunteer match program. Dozens of employees serve on boards, either as members or in leadership roles.
Alyeska Pipeline has a strong legacy of supporting communities where employees live and work. To honor this, and mark its 35th anniversary of operations, Alyeska invites community members to vote for their favorite nonprofit featured in Alyeska’s $5K Philanthropy Poll. Nonprofits with the most votes from Valdez, Fairbanks, and Anchorage/statewide will receive $5000 from Alyeska Pipeline.
Employee Volunteerism: Karen’s story
Karen Stewart is the Compliance & Documentation Specialist, supporting the Operations Team at the Valdez Marine Terminal. She’s known in Valdez as a volunteer extraordinaire, involved in a wide range of community efforts and projects. Steward spoke about what motivates her to give back to her community:
Finding something I am passionate about was easy to do in Valdez. I wanted to do something good for others and the community. I want to make it a better place to live. I want to help change peoples lives for the better.
I have been on several boards during my 24 years in Valdez, including the World Extreme Skiing Championships (WESC) where I was president for 5 years. WESC catapulted Valdez in a new direction, into helicopter and snowcat skiing and hopefully — someday -- a ski resort. That would be a dream come true.
I sat on the Valdez United Way (UW) Board for nine years and acted as president and vice president. We were able to do so many great things for the more than 46 non-profit organizations in Valdez. It was certainly gratifying to see so much good done with the money raised during the fall campaign. It could not be successful with out the generosity of Alyeska and our contractor partners.
I became involved with Junior Achievement (JA) in 1995. I was the program coordinator for Valdez for 16 years. It was a wonderful opportunity to become involved with the Valdez school system and make a difference in a young person’s life. As a consultant for JA, I was able to spend time in the classroom and have hands-on learning time with students from kindergarten through sixth grade. I also raised funds to support for JA in Valdez, and connected with professionals in the community to teach the classes. Alyeska played a strategic role in JA by sponsoring the program and allowing their employees paid time to teach the five classes in the JA program.
I have been on the Valdez Museum and Historical Archives for ten years. The board is a very active and hard working. Not only is the board active in decision making and policies, there is always something going on at the museum. We’re working on hosting exhibit openings, a revitalization program, the Exxon Oil Spill Exhibit, and we are currently developing a new aviation exhibit.
Fundraising is a big part for a non-profit. I have chaired the annual museum fundraiser, 'The Roadhouse Dinner,' for ten years, and have helped to raise thousands of dollars for this very active place. It has been fun and a lot of work. Alyeska has been helpful in contributing $500 to organizations that employees give more than 50 hours of volunteer time to, and through my volunteering and keeping track of my hours, the museum has benefited from Alyeska’s philanthropy program.
Currently I am chairing the Gold Rush Days’ committee called the Golden Rock Awards, promoting community beautification through the art of gardening. Gold Rush Days is the first weekend in August and money raised during this weeklong celebration goes to the Valdez Scholarship Fund.
So there you have it. There is so much to do in Valdez if you like to get involved and give of your time. I enjoy volunteering, chairing committees, and making a difference in an individual’s life and the community.
Alyeska supports environment through various programs
June 30 marked Carol Comeau’s last day as Anchorage School District Superintendent, and she ended her career in the same place she started it: on an elementary school playground. Comeau joined volunteers from the Parks Foundation, including a group from Alyeska, as they renovated the North Russian Jack Springs Park. The park needed a makeover and is receiving new playground equipment later in August.
This is just one example of numerous efforts by Alyeska throughout the year to protect and improve Alaska’s environment. Alyeska invests in many environmental projects and organizations throughout the year, including the Alaska Botanical Gardens in Anchorage, the Calyspo Farms School gardens and Project Green Star in Fairbanks, the Eagle River Nature Center, Bird TLC, the Prince William Sound Science Center in Valdez, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage and the Valley Center for Recycling in Mat-Su.
Saturday’s event focused on cleaning up a well-loved park and celebrating the career of Comeau, who started her career with the Anchorage School District as a playground attendant at Ocean View Elementary. During her 35 years with the district, she worked her way up to the superintendent role.
At Saturday’s event, supporters thanked her for her years of service, many bringing school supplies to donate to one of her favorite initiatives, Helping Us Give School Supplies (H.U.G.S.S.). The Anchorage Park Foundation has also established the "Russian Jack Springs Park Playground Fund" and is accepting ongoing community donations..
Alyeska volunteers who signed on to assist on Saturday said it was rewarding spending several hours giving back to the community and improving the environment for park users.
Corporate Communications Director Michelle Egan helped plan the event.
“I worked with Carol for 10 years before coming to Alyeska, and found this event to be a really fitting way for her to say goodbye to the community,” Egan said. “Those who work closely with her know she is especially passionate about the early developmental childhood years which made this project a great fit.”