Bravo! recognition and funding encourages Alcoans to stay connected with their community – it’s a great way to give back. Bravo! volunteers support everything from health and social welfare organizations to educational, environmental, cultural and civic charitable institutions. Their efforts help strengthen these local organizations and bring a spirit of grass-roots sustainability to the community.
We’re very proud of our volunteers. We’d like you to meet some of them:
József is a support engineer with GBS IS, responsible for the local area network, phone, and cable systems at Alcoa-Köfém. He’s been working at the plant in Székesfehérvár, Hungary since 1984. For 28 years, he has also been volunteering with the Complete Life Social Foundation, which provides a summer camp experience for approximately 100 special-needs children each year. These holidays play an important part in preparing them to enter society and live a mostly independent life. At camp, they take part in programs, which are both fun and instill a feeling of success. One of the most beneficial parts of the experience is that the children discover how important they are to other people, which greatly improves self-confidence.
József has led the Foundation since 1999. In this role, he organizes trainings for volunteers to prepare them for service, prepares the house and gardens, and volunteers for a full week at a camp each summer. While there, he spends evenings with the children, their parents and helpers.
Remembering how he initially became involved, József recalls: “Once when I painted the fence in the garden of the home, suddenly a little boy took me by the hand and drew me to walk. Shortly more and more children joined us and we walked hand in hand. I was fascinated by their kindness and confidence. This experience shaped my way of thinking and I take strength from it even now.”
Dave is a Casthouse Metal Control Supervisor at Alcoa Lancaster who contributes over 300 hours annually as a volunteer firefighter with the Lafayette Fire Company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Serving since 2004, he is currently the Assistant Chief, responsible for certification and training coordination. Dave has also completed over 1,500 hours of lifetime training and is certified at the Fire Officer 3 Level.
Dave began volunteering as a teenager and is proud that his son, Jeff, has also caught the bug. The younger Keens serves as a Lieutenant at Lafayette and is certified at the Firefighter 2 Level.
Working together, they serve the community through everything from firefighting to vehicle rescue, HAZMAT control, education and training – even maintenance and fundraising. “We volunteer to do what it takes to provide all facets of safety to the public. If the problem is not police- or medical-related, it’s the fire service that answers the call for help.”
One of Dave’s most rewarding volunteer experiences is to be out battling the blazes, saving lives and property with the help of his son. “I’ve seen my son mature in many ways. Also, there’s the gratitude we see in the community’s eyes – helping people in their time of need is unforgettable.”
Stefán Karl Gudjónsson
In many countries the military is responsible for sending out rescue teams when hikers get lost or a ship runs aground. But in Iceland, there is no local army or navy. Rescue teams consist entirely of volunteers, many of whom invest up to 500 hours of their spare time each year in serving their community under the banner of ICE-SAR. They train in the most severe weather and are on call 24/7. ICE-SAR teams respond to everything from sea rescues to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, lost hikers and even vehicles stuck in one of Iceland’s glacial rivers. A total of 62 Fjardaál Alcoa employees volunteer to be part of the organization.
Stefán Karl Gudjónsson puts in up to 400 hours each year keeping his two specially-trained rescue dogs ready to respond. They’re trained to look for people in the open, in avalanches and in ruins. Stefán devotes a great deal of effort to his dogs, often using vacation time to travel to other parts of Iceland for a training camp. “It takes about three years to properly train a rescue dog,” he says. “The specialist team here in East Iceland meets every two weeks for live training. Sometimes we get the teenagers from the youth division to hide themselves and the dogs must find them – we always strive to train with live persons. Biannually, the dogs must also undergo an audit where they are tested according to international standards.”
Are rescue dogs more disciplined than the average family dog? “We must set higher standards for them to be exemplary. Still, you must be careful not to crush their independence, as a rescue dog must sometimes make an autonomous decision and move in another direction than the owner wants him to, when for example he senses a person he needs to follow instead of his leader.”
Johny Mertotaroeno, a Surinam-based E/I Mechanic who’s worked for Suralco for 21 years, is a leader both at work and in the community. You can always find him coordinating, advising and taking responsibility for the people on the work floor. He does it quietly, not for attention. Rather, Johny prefers to motivate, encouraging his friends, family, and others to take action and make a difference in the communities where they live and work.
“Here on the work floor, we’re one family. We are in this together; we have to care for each other.” Off duty, the crew spends time fishing, sporting, and aiding people in need. When someone brings a need to the group, Johny begins organizing the project, fundraising, and looking for partners to join. Together they have revitalized playgrounds, repaired roofs, and offices of NGOs, repainted classrooms and assisted in jobs for disabled people across Suriname. Johny always tries to balance the goals of the project with teambuilding and quality time for his co-workers.
Fundraising is always a challenge. ‘We would collect cash, ask for a donation, submit an ACTION, and often we as a team would submit our Bravo! for one specific organization,” Johny explains. “To repair a classroom or repaint a school, we usually do the job for a few hours every month for some months until we complete the project. We are always working as a team.” The crew brings the skills of handymen, construction workers, electricians, and mechanics to the organizations they support. In addition to helping the community, projects bring teams closer together.
The recipients of Johny’s Bravo! grants change each year, but one thing remains consistent – the organizations, and the E/I crew at Suralco, are stronger for his dedication to volunteering.