January 17, 2011
Alcoa volunteers Make a Skating Dream Come True

Nineteen Alcoa Fjardaál employees and their families, a total of 30 volunteers, worked diligently over the weekend to make a community dream come true when they built a skating rink in old barracks in Egilsstadir town in East Iceland.

The barracks formerly served as the corn storage hall for the Slaughterhouse in Egilstadir, and now takes on a new role to provide the people of East Iceland with an opportunity to skate under a roof, which is ideal in Iceland, as winds often blow hard and heavy snow can be expected in wintertime.
The Alcoa Foundation supported the initiative with a grant of $3,000 as it is part of Alcoa’s ACTION volunteer program, and so many volunteers were involved. Alcoa Fjardaál added another $1,000 as the project definitely enhances the community and provides families with an option for practicing this popular sport.
It may sound unbelieveable, given the name of the country, but in fact very few communities in Iceland sport a skating rink: they rely on ponds, which may take longer to freeze and are less safe.
Preparations for this project actually took a very short time. In late December, some Fjardaál employees started exchanging e-mails, toying with the idea to make a skating rink. They had hardly dared to dream of an indoors rink, as it would cost too much, and they decided to form an ACTION project to make an outdoors rink.
The municipality of Egilsstadir welcomed the project and provided the barracks and benches for skaters to use when changing footwear - taking the dream further. Hence, a little over two weeks after the idea came up, Egilsstadir town now has an indoors skating rink where anybody can come and skate for free.
“We worked really hard! We cleaned up the premises, laid a plastic cloth on the floor, hosed it with water and set up benches provided by the municipality. Now we’re just waiting for frost for some days in a row, and then we can start skating,” said Janka Sulikova, one of the main driving forces behind this project, who works in the Alcoa Fjardaál lab. She moved to Iceland from the Czech Rebublic four years ago and has settled in East Iceland with her husband, Michal, a maintenance planner in the Fjardaál smelter.
Janka said that it was a successful event. “A lot of people showed up and everyone put their hands together to finish this and make the premises look as good as possible,” she said. “Now, I will skate for the first time in my life on the new skating rink, and I think this applies to many other people in the area."
The skating rink initiative is the first ACTION-project of 2011. Last year, 63% of Alcoa Fjardaál employees participated in some kind of volunteer work, sponsored by Alcoa. A total of ten ACTION community projects were organized in 2010, including two outdoor schoolrooms, a sundeck by the East Iceland hospital, two rescue squad headquarters, etc. The Alcoa Foundation supported these projects with a  $35,500 contribution in 2010..

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Lots of vigour!

Children and adults came together to create a place where every child and grownup in the community can skate. The photo shows a part of the volunteer group.

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The "Corn storage"

The new skating rink, brightly decorated.

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A giving couple

Janka Sulikova with her husband, Michal Janicek.

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Let it snow ...

Now skaters can enjoy their sport in East Iceland without worrying about snowfall or shovelling. Some of the volunteers gathered outside to watch as water was hosed over the plastic cloth.