See why our employees love volunteering in their communities
August 8, 2018 by Amy Scott
It doesn’t matter where you go, you’ll find FortisBC employees giving back to their communities. It’s one way we do our part to create a sustainable future for both our communities and our province.
Our Community Relations group is constantly seeking opportunities to support groups and activities that align with the interests of the communities in which we live and work, ensuring employees, customers and the public will benefit. Corporately, we provide funding for a variety of initiatives that contribute to making local communities a brighter place.
Although these investments make a difference to our communities, we have an even greater asset to offer: our employees. We strongly support the active involvement of our employees in their communities and search for opportunities for them to get involved in a personal way.
That’s why, each year, we organize a number of community giving days.
What is a community giving day?
A minimum of three times a year, employees volunteer to offer hands-on support for a community group, usually a non-profit organization, in need.
In the past, we’ve cleaned up parks and trails, built community gardens, removed invasive species, painted buildings and more. Activities can be organized by a manager wanting to include some team building, or come in the form of post-natural disaster restoration.
Why do we do them?
We’re proud of our history as a member of BC’s communities and take seriously our responsibility of being a good corporate citizen.
We want to do our part to keep BC as bright as possible. Not only do community giving days allow us to help these organizations, they also help us develop new skills and learn about ourselves. One of the most fulfilling aspects of participating is getting to meet and work with people in the company that aren’t a part of your normal work day.
How are the organizations selected?
Community giving days are brought forward by employees who have an existing relationship with an organization, or the organization reaches out directly from word of mouth. We look for groups that share similar values to FortisBC and have a need that we can accommodate based on number of employees needed and available, time of year and location.
Our four pillars of Community Investment are:
- Safety – projects that promote gas and electrical safety, personal safety and accident avoidance
- Education – projects that promote gas and electrical trades, literacy or skill, and/or leadership
- Environment – projects that directly benefit the environment
- Indigenous initiatives – projects that meet the unique needs of Indigenous groups, organizations or communities
So far in 2018, we’ve held two community giving days.
Port Alberni Salvation Army – Giving to organizations that give to the community
The Salvation Army food bank in Port Alberni was originally selected as a recipient of one of the Fortis Inc. Board of Director $500 food bank donations for the 2017 holiday season. When Vancouver Island’s Carmen Driechel, Community Relations Manager, and Dave McColm, Operations Manager, delivered the financial donation, they quickly learned that the organization could also benefit from another form of help.
The food bank had just moved into the old post office building and was trying to transition from the move-in phase to serving the community as quickly as possible. As employees of a company whose goal is to deliver our products and services safely and reliably, this need to provide service struck a chord.
The previous locations served 500 local families per month; now, out of their single, centralized location, more than 800 local families were using the service every month. Dave and Carmen did some quick estimates and figured if an average family is four people, then this one location of the Salvation Army serves approximately 3,200 people per month, almost 18 per cent of the Port Alberni population.
After more conversations, it was discovered that the food bank staff were sorting food in a dark basement and that they could benefit immeasurably from a brighter, cleaner work environment.
“I thought our day in Port Alberni was wonderful. Giving back, pitching in, helping out, is always rewarding. I was happy to be a part of it and glad we work for an organization that supports us in doing these sorts of things!”
–– Rob Bradbeer, Operations Manager, Vancouver Island South
“It was an awesome day, I loved seeing the faces of the Salvation Army employees as we showed up to work. They were a blast to work with and I believe they felt like part of our Zone 6 team...if only for a day. I strongly feel giving back to our communities is a privilege. It makes me proud to work for FortisBC.”
–– Darrin Crozier, Regional Manager
“Any time we give back to the communities we serve is always very rewarding. The event in Port Alberni was particularly rewarding for me, as I could feel the passion from the people who work at the food bank and how much our work meant to them and their organization. I always like to see how much we can accomplish in such a short time frame when we all work together to complete these projects!”
–– Alan Jane, Operations Manager
Kamloops Boys & Girls Club – Working so kids can play
For the last few years, at the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) conference, FortisBC selected organizations to receive a $15,000 financial donation each. The Kamloops Boys and Girls Club was one of the four recipients.
The money was allocated to purchase playground equipment that would allow kids under the age of five to play safely, something that hadn’t been available in the city. After presenting the club with the cheque, Matt Mason, Community Relations Manager, realized the club didn’t have the capacity or resources to install the equipment.
“I volunteered for the task of building the car, thinking it would be a one-person job. Little did I know, it took the entire day to complete! The group joked that it would be quicker to assemble an actual car from spare parts than building the playground car. Luckily, after some help from the team, the car is now proudly one of the centerpieces of the playground. It was great to be able to participate and give back to our community.”
–– Christopher Kleven, Operations Supervisor
“It is great to be able to come together with an organization like the Boys and Girls Club in Kamloops for a common cause. I am proud of all the employees who made the time to help. We consider safety to be top priority on our job sites, and now these kids have a safe place to play.”
–– Kevin Gerow, Regional Manager, Interior North
“Financial support is always appreciated by the different community groups, but there’s something special about showing up and working alongside the organization to help them meet their goals of supporting the community.”
–– Matt Mason, Community Relations Manager
Do you know an organization in your community that could benefit from some employee support? Suggest your community giving day idea to your local community relations manager or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We are incredibly honoured to have FortisBC support the development of our playground at John Tod Centre. Fortis BC not only provided the funding but an amazing team came out to actually install the equipment on a sunny day in May. Thanks to Fortis BC we've met our goal to include play equipment to meet the needs of the 2-5 age demographic. The minute the playground re-opened the kids jumped on the equipment and have been enjoying ever since."
–– Traci Anderson, Executive Director, Boys and Girls Club of Kamloops.