In keeping with the season’s spirit of sharing, GE Aviation employees reflect on their impact in communities around the world. Throughout the year, GE Volunteers give their time and expertise to improve lives for others — children, elderly, veterans, and those less fortunate.
Our “12 Days of giving” feature highlights GE Aviation’s volunteer projects completed by GE Volunteers groups in 2017.
Day 1: Giving in Hooksett, New Hampshire
“They came, and they worked hard,” posted Pauline Meridien, executive director, Back in the Saddle (BITS) Equine Therapy Center in Contoocook, N.H., “… neither rain or pouring rain could stop them.”
Meridien’s praise for volunteers from GE Aviation, Hooksett, N.H., and other organizations highlighted work accomplished to benefit the therapeutic riding facility, which serves children and adults with disabilities by providing quality time shared with horses.
“(When) the sun returned, we looked upon a groomed campus, repaired tractor, moved mechanical horse, new fence posts, new riding trails, cleaned tack, helmets and grooming buckets, immaculate riding ring, stairs constructed and 2 four-leaf clover (riding patterns) for continued luck!”
Project leader Kevin Bridges attributes the terrific turnout of Hooksett’s volunteers to the site’s commitment to improving community resources and helping others.
“The team at BITS was extremely grateful, and GE Volunteers more than did our part to make it a more inviting place for those who benefit from their services,” Bridges said.
Day 2: Giving in Hungary
An encore performance by GE Volunteers in Hungary has ensured Mikszáth Kálmán Elementary School, Nézsa, was freshly trimmed and ready for student arrivals this school year.
More than four dozen GE Aviation volunteers, along with family and friends, arrived early on a warm summer Saturday and went to work. A full day of painting doors, window and floors, restoring chairs, and completing maintenance projects provided needed improvements.
This year’s “repeat performance” by GE Volunteers followed last year’s three-day project, when GE Volunteers renovated school bathrooms — installing new fixtures, replacing windows, and improving areas for changing clothes and showers.
“On behalf of the teachers and students … we would like to say ’thank you,’ ” wrote Éva Sztankóné Steflik, who leads the school. “Thanks to this project we could welcome our children in the new school year to our educational institution with new aesthetical doors and windows. We welcome your continuous and generous support.”
Day 3: Giving in Cardiff, Wales
Ensuring “fun in the sun” activities for Penrhiwceiber, Wales youngsters and their families became a bit more challenging three years ago, when the village’s 60-year-old paddling pool closed due to budget cuts.
A spirited community effort raised funds to re-open the facility in 2016, but the Lee Gardens pool and play area remained in need of extensive refurbishment. This summer, GE Volunteers from Cardiff made a huge difference to improve the facility — donating more than 350 hours to clear rubble and overgrown areas, create a garden area, clean and paint playground equipment, railings and fencing.
GE’s work was evident to more than 1,000 pool visitors through 2017 summer months.
“Penrhiwceiber is a former mining village, and unemployment is higher than the average for England and Wales,” according to the Lee Gardens page on One Family website. “… The pool brings people of all ages and cultures together. Families who can’t afford holidays spend their days at the pool, where the children are occupied and happy.
“Elderly and lonely people also benefit, as the project encourages people to volunteer or just call in for a chat and a cuppa. It is a real community project.”
Day 4: Giving in Malaysia
The birthday of Malaysia – when Sarawak, Sabah and the Federation of Malaysia territories unified as one nation – is celebrated across the country with flags flying, cultural performances, and ethnic celebrations.
This year on Sept. 16, GE employees recognized the occasion with a home-build project in Kampung Poh, a remote Orang Asli or aboriginal people’s village in Malaysia. GE Volunteers’ participation in EPIC Homes’ Malaysia Day Build resulted in more than 1,600 hours donated over the three-day weekend in mid-September.
“A Samaritan wanted to pay for the cost of a home and needed volunteers. We were more than happy to help,” said Taufiq Razak, who led the GE Volunteers project. “The donor herself participated in the build with nine of her friends and 20 GE Volunteers helped out.”
Despite heavy rainfall that halted work several times, keys to the home were handed over to Wah Cherem and her family of five on Day Three. The build is the fourth that GE Volunteers has organized over the past five years, with plans to continue their impact in Malaysia’s remote villages and Orang Asli communities.
Day 5: Giving in Greenville, South Carolina
Research indicates that 15.6 million U.S. households are food insecure, including 2.8 million households with at least one adult aged 65 or older, according to the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC.) Millions more households with seniors face marginal food security.
Providing for the needs of hungry people in Greenville, S.C., is Harvest Hope Food Bank. Established in 1981, Harvest Home distributed 27.5 million meals last year, serving 28,000 people each week.
Among the recipients of Harvest Home’s services are needy senior citizens who are eligible to receive a monthly box of food. To provide this service, the organization counts on volunteers, like the team at GE Aviation who worked at Harvest Hope in partnership with United Way’s “Live United Day.”
“Our GE Volunteers donated 40 hours, packing food boxes for low-income seniors,” said Isaac Porter, project leader. “We also helped by building boxes, breaking down cardboard, sealing and loading boxes onto a pallet.”
Depending on volunteers allows Harvest Hope Food Bank to minimize labor costs and maximize food assistance for people in the local community. The GE Volunteers completed more than 250 boxes for elderly, and Greenville employees have made plans for future events.
“Volunteers allow us to maintain a minimal paid staff so we can put more money toward serving those in need,” according to the website.
Day 6: Giving in China
GE Volunteers at GE Aviation’s Suzhou and Shanghai sites are connecting classroom students with the wonders of flight and with process tools that improve experiences.
Suzhou volunteers have developed an aviation lecture curriculum to demonstrate essential components of the industry – history of world aviation, China’s aviation industry, airplanes and aircraft engines, and GE Volunteers have taught more than 200 students about flight.
“Volunteers from Suzhou brought a fantastic lecture to us,” said eighth-grader Wei Chen. “We’re inspired to work hard, and we dream of being a part of the aviation industry when we start our careers.”
In Shanghai, engineers visited with Xi’an Jiaotong University students to demonstrate how innovative Design Thinking can match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible. The Design Thinking workshop featured a case study about GE’s re-designed MRI experience for young patients, creating pirate ship and spaceship adventure themes during their scans.
After the case study, GE Volunteers challenged students to use Design Thinking processes for improving the school’s dining service, generating creative ideas and plenty of laughter.
Day 7: Giving in Cincinnati, Ohio
Years before universities and companies like GE identified the talent crisis for women in STEM, Sharon Crall and Rosa Nemec were leading GE Volunteers teams in “Year of the Girl” programs to engage young girls in science, technology, engineering and math.
Introduced in 2012, “Year of the Girl” partners with the area’s Girls Scouts of Western Ohio to expose primary grade girls in after-school activities with real-world STEM applications. What started in three local elementary schools has grown into a robust program at six elementary schools and one middle school.
Last year, “Year of the Girl” expanded further at Girl Scout summer camps, where youngsters experienced science projects like egg drop competition, catapult operations and microscope observations. This summer, more than 300 girls enjoyed hands-on STEM activities led by GE Volunteers at filled-to-capacity Girl Scout camps.
Sharon, Rosa and their team of 170 GE Volunteers were honored recently by Greater Cincinnati United Way, and recognized for encouraging girls in STEM.
“Hundreds of girls had the opportunity to learn from experienced engineers … making catapults, bath bombs, pop can cars, and so much more,” said Erin Focke of G.S. of Western Ohio. “Their passion for the girls, and especially the STEM field, have helped impact the lives of countless girls.”
Day 8: Giving in Celma, Brazil
The lives of children who have been sexually abused are changed forever.
Some children may need to talk about their abuse soon after it happens. Others may want to move slowly, testing the safety of discussing issues that arise. Children and youth frequently respond best to specialized treatment when it is offered early and with the support of trusted psychologists, according to “Stop It Now,” a non-profit organization that provides support, information and resources to keep children safe and create healthier communities.
When GE Aviation employees at Celma learned that the abuse counseling facility for children in Petropolis needed improvements, the site’s GE Volunteers moved into action.
“When we learned about this reality, we donated a container room that was divided into three clinics for therapy sessions,” said Gabriela Gomes, who leads GE Volunteers at Celma. “Our volunteers provided furniture, books and play materials so the work of psychologists with the children could continue.”
GE Volunteers donated more than 300 hours this year to create safe spaces for assisting children of sexual abuse. Since opening the structure in February, more than 220 youth have been served in close to 1,300 therapy sessions.
“I’ve been involved in GE Volunteers for 10 years,” said Gomes, “and this was the most important and emotional project I´ve participated in. There are no words to explain how I felt when I saw how many sessions have been held there for the benefit of these children.”
Day 9: Giving in Dayton, Ohio
Marking the one-year anniversary of GE’s newest affinity network – People With Disabilities (PDN) — employees around the world celebrated a “Day of Caring” on Oct. 11 with presentations, networking and volunteerism.
In Dayton, OH, GE Volunteers from two GE Aviation sites joined forces to benefit United Rehabilitation Services, which provides specialized programs to enhance life for children and adults with disabilities and other special needs.
Led by Chris Baker, Supply Chain leader at the Tech Development (TDI) site, GE Volunteers served 40 hours helping with fun activities for residents — creating root beer floats and painting wooden cars — as well as assisting with preschoolers.
“URS not only serves individuals dealing with developmental and physical disabilities, but also offers services for their families, like day care for siblings, to provide a ‘one-stop shop,’ ” Baker said. “URS has a great reputation in the Dayton area, and GE Volunteers can help relieve their staff by leading activities and interacting with the clients.”
Dayton-area volunteers have previously served at URS, and plan to increase activities in the year ahead, he said.
Day 10: Giving in Cincinnati, Ohio
Twenty-five years ago, Matthew 25 Ministries was founded to recover excess products deemed no longer useful by U.S. companies and private donors, for redistribution to people in desperate poverty.
In the two-and-a-half decades since, this worldwide logistics organization has shipped more than 180 million pounds of goods around the world, assisting more than 100 million people in need throughout the U.S. and in more than 60 other countries.
Volunteers play an essential role in the organization’s success, because donated goods must be sorted, counted, packaged, and put on pallets ready for shipment. In 2017, more than 250 GE Aviation volunteers worked at M2M, including employees from the Materials Value Stream.
“Many on our team worked in paint reblending,” said Jared Saperstein, who leads GE Volunteers for Supply Chain. “The program accepts donations of unwanted, unused or mistinted paint. Volunteers sort and inspect the paint, which is later blended into a variety of colors that are distributed throughout the world.
“Working in M2M’s paint room means that excess paint will be kept out of landfills and instead put to good use in poverty-stricken areas. It’s important not only to improve the appearance of these communities but also serves a functional purpose: lowering interior temperatures by reflecting the sun’s energy and offering an environmental protection to the building’s exterior, which reduces maintenance and lengthens the structure’s life,” he said.
Other GE Volunteers groups have sorted and packaged medical supplies, prepared personal items for distribution, and organized donated clothing at M2M. This year, more than 700 hours were donated by GE employees.
Day 11: Giving in Cheltenham, England
Promising “science galore” for all ages, the annual Cheltenham Science Festival features some of the world’s greatest scientists, big thinkers and comedy geniuses to help answer big questions.
Included in the mix are GE Volunteers from Dowty Propellers, who participate in the “jam-packed-days of debate, discovery, experiments, enjoyment and hands-on-fun” with a propeller and technology display. Led by Kevin Dugmore, the GE Aviation employees set up and demonstrated Dowty technology during the entire six-day event.
“Youngsters enjoy our products,” said Jo Davies, site engagement leader. “They’re always amazed at seeing the working propeller model. The exhibit encourages children to explore and pose questions they don’t get to ask in school.”
The forum also provides opportunities for adult attendees – particularly veterans – to visit the Dowty exhibit and learn more about its products and their history.
Also this summer, Dowty was represented at Royal International Air Tattoo, the world’s largest military air show, held annually in July. During the event, Dowty’s GE Volunteers supported a STEM stand in the Techno Zone, sponsored by Lockheed Martin.
Day 12: Giving in Cincinnati, Ohio
When families arrive from out-of-town to seek medical care for their critically ill children, Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House can ease financial and emotional burdens by providing a “home away from home,” with bedrooms, long-term suites, family rooms, a common dining room, laundry facilities, playrooms, an exercise room and on-site parking.
Located near Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, guests at RMH are able to focus entirely on caring for their children. Outpatient children staying at the house can enjoy activities, special events, and making friends with other kids who have a mask, a feeding tube or a bald head just like them.
An important component of facility’s home-like environment are the regular meals prepared and served by volunteer teams, including GE Volunteers who participate in the “Taste of Hope” dining program, preparing and serving meals, and as “house helpers.” This year, GE Volunteers donated 1,250 hours to assist families at Ronald McDonald House.
Additional GE Volunteers dedicated time this month to “build-a-bear” and other stuffed animals, to brighten the holidays for children at RMH and in the hospital.
“It’s amazing!” said Jaime Fisk, RMH Meals & Activities coordinator. “We are so fortunate to have GE support. Thank you for partnering with us to make the guest families’ time here a bit easier.”