November 24, 2010

Alcoa volunteering: Australian best practice

Alcoa employees across Australia donated more than 7500 volunteer hours to community projects and not-for-profit organisations, during the company’s fifth annual volunteering month in October.

Alcoa’s worldwide ‘Month of Service’, an initiative of the Alcoa Foundation, is a time when the global aluminium company encourages employee volunteerism and celebrates its hundreds of employees who volunteer all year round.
This year employees participated in a wide range of activities including assisting Alcoa’s long term conservation partner Greening Australia with key environmental projects, raising money for breast cancer research, busy-bees at local schools, tree planting, and the painting of Surf Clubs and community facilities.

Alcoa of Australia Managing Director, Alan Cransberg, said: “The benchmark for corporate volunteering in Australia is 35 percent employee participation.  Alcoa had 35 to 40 percent engagement in Month of Service this year, so I’m very proud of our people.

“October is always a fun time for Alcoans, but importantly we see real community results and efforts which will have a lasting impact – we helped over 600 community groups this year and planted over 4000 native seedlings,” he said.

“Alcoa is an important member of many local communities and it’s critical we show them support, both through our employee volunteering programs and our ongoing community partnerships and sponsorships.”

Managers from Alcoa’s Pinjarra Refinery in Western Australia lent a hand to the Peel Soup Kitchen last month, and Kitchen Facilitator, John Stallard, said: “The support from Alcoa is greatly valued by our organisation because we totally rely on volunteers and the generosity of the public.”

Alcoa employees and the team from Greening Australia joined forces to construct an Indigenous Bushfoods Garden near Alcoa’s Point Henry Smelter in Victoria. Greening Australia’s Candice Parker said: “The Alcoa volunteers have done such a wonderful job and their efforts have saved us a lot of time and money.”

In Portland, Victoria, volunteers painted, tidied storage areas, cleaned equipment and laid adhesive non-slip flooring at the Portland Surf Life Saving Club (PSLSC).  PSLSC President Maree Rundell said the volunteers’ efforts had a significant impact: “The Surf Life Saving Club continues to strive to provide the community with a reliable and professional service and Portland Aluminium, as a community partner, plays a very important role in the future of our Club.”

Mr Cransberg, who volunteering at the PSLSC last month, said the experience reminded him that Surf Life Saving Clubs are often something which are taken for granted.

“We go to the beach and people are there to patrol and take care of those who get into difficulty. It was good to see the volunteers and help them do some work to maintain the standards they, and we, expect. They work very hard and donate many many hours looking after our safety, while also giving kids a sporting outlet,” he said.

“I think we live in a world that cries out for more community spirit, so it was great to get out from behind the desk and do something that makes a real difference – it’s a great feeling,” said Alcoa employee Libby White, who sold merchandise during October on behalf of the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

A team from Wagerup Refinery in Western Australia donated its time to re-paint a much loved local children’s train at the Harvey Lions Club.  The Club’s Robert St Duke said: “Heaven knows how many kids have had a ride in the train over the years, so help from the fellas to put a fresh coat of paint on the carriages is much appreciated.”

While Month of Service is the Company’s volunteering centrepiece, Alcoa employees are heavily involved in their communities all year round.  Throughout the year, the company matches employees’ volunteer time with financial grants to their chosen not-for-profit organisations through its ACTION** and Bravo!*** programs.

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Local photos from around Alcoa’s operational areas can be supplied upon request.

* Alcoa Foundation
Month of Service is an initiative of the Alcoa Foundation and takes place in 24 countries where Alcoa has a presence.

The Alcoa Foundation is one of the largest corporate foundations in the US, with assets of approximately US$420 million.  In addition to addressing local needs in communities where Alcoa operates, the Alcoa Foundation is focused on promoting environmental stewardship, enabling economic and social sustainability, and preparing tomorrow’s leaders through education and learning.

The Alcoa Foundation was founded more than 50 years ago and has invested more than US$515 million since 1952. The work of the Alcoa Foundation is further enhanced by Alcoa’s thousands of employee volunteers, who in 2009 gave over 650,000 service hours around the world.

ACTION (Alcoans Coming Together In Our Neighbourhoods) recognises the team effort of at least five Alcoa employees who spend a minimum of four hours on a community service project for a local not-for-profit, community or non-governmental organisation. In recognition of the team's effort, Alcoa makes a contribution to the organisation and grants are up to $US3,000.

In 2009, 75 ACTION grants were awarded in Australia, thanks to the efforts of 757 employees who donated 3810 hours of their time. This equated to a total of US$190,500 in community funding.

Bravo! recognises individual Alcoa employees’ who volunteer 50 hours of personal time, in one year, to a not-for-profit, community or non-governmental organisation. Every Alcoa employee in Australia is entitled to one Bravo! grant each year.

In 2009, 924 Bravo! participants, who donated 90,597.8 hours of their personal time, collectively generated US$231,000 for community organisations.

Media contact: Sarah Tempest 0404 800 417