Massive Volunteer Effort Touches 18 States
"Strong community involvement is at the heart of Williams, driven by our core value to be responsible stewards," says Alan Armstrong, president and chief executive officer of Williams, which handles 30 percent of the nation's natural gas. "By harnessing the energy and enthusiasm of our employees, we're exemplifying our values by lending a hand to the nonprofits that work hard every day to improve our communities."
Williams volunteer week builds on the company's long tradition of being a good neighbor through employee volunteerism and financial support. Projects this year ranged from outdoor beautification to volunteering in elementary school classrooms to helping at food banks.
In Houston, employees revitalized a community garden in an underserved area. Williams employee Jerry Fabian is on the board of directors for nonprofit Urban Harvest, which has a mission to increase access to fresh and local food. The Happy Place Garden serves a low-income population.
"This area is classified as a food desert, meaning many residents live away from a supermarket or grocery store with healthy food options. The goal is to revitalize this garden so that the neighborhood can once again plant and harvest nutritious foods from the allotted beds, plus also have a safe space for the neighbors to gather and build social cohesion."
Fabian, a supervisor of project controls at Williams, says employee volunteerism is not just a duty, but a privilege.
"While we are supporting the areas where we work, live and play, we are also helping to create a sustainable and safe community for everyone. Obviously, volunteering has a positive impact on the communities, but it also creates a positive and lasting feeling of achievement."
In North Carolina, Williams' Coordinator of Maintenance Chad Dlugoszewski says it feels good to help a local nonprofit needing volunteers with skills in repairs and construction. At the Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson, N.C., employees repaired roofs, sanded and painted walls, assembled pantry shelving and pruned trees.
"The center rarely has volunteers with the skills required for upkeep and repairs to their 85-year-old building," Dlugoszewski says. "Partnering with Williams for the volunteer project allowed them to make repairs that have been needed for years."
In western Georgia, employees documented thousands of gravestones at a nearby cemetery. The project, in coordination with Billion Graves, will add to an online database of gravestones that can then be located by longitude and latitude, says Tina Kitchens, a senior field office administrator at Williams.
"There is a huge need to record all gravestones so that relatives and descendants can search for their loved ones," says Kitchens. "Some of the gravestones date back decades and are too dirty to read, so we will carefully and respectfully wash them and load the images to the Billion Graves app."
Kitchens says Williams' support of volunteer efforts is meaningful to both employees and those in need.
"It makes us feel good to do something for others," she says. "I hope if I was in need, there would be caring people out there to help."
These are just a few of the many volunteer projects completed across the nation by Williams employees in only one week. To learn more about Williams and see photos from its volunteer week, visit Williams.com.