Friendship and energy in the Peruvian Mountains
Alicia Lenny stood among peaks in the Ancash region in Peru, which is home to the highest mountain chain in the country, and knew she had experienced a truly enlightening experience.
The Union Gas engineer had helped villagers access power and made a great friend at Enbridge Gas Distribution.
The Ancash region has more than 30,000 homes without access to electricity. Villagers endure daily struggles often taken for granted here in North America — a realization Alicia and the team of volunteers from Union Gas and Enbridge Gas Distribution (along with other Enbridge companies), used as motivation to deliver energy to homes and schools.
“It’s great to be able to make a difference. You do something for a village in the Ancash and the entire community comes out. They played soccer and played other games and sang songs. It was very touching,” said Alicia.
As integration continues to shape our companies, Union Gas employees joined their Enbridge Gas Distribution co-workers in this volunteer effort, which was called energy4everyone (e4e). Funded by Enbridge, e4e offers employees the opportunity to focus their expertise on energy sustainability projects.
This past year, e4e continued its long-standing partnership with Light Up the World (LUTW) and travelled to Peru for a truly “enlightening” experience. The purpose of the ongoing partnership is to support energy-impoverished countries in gaining access to basic needs.
“This is something that becomes particularly difficult in remote areas due lack of infrastructure and funding,” said Alicia, who is based at the Union Gas office in Stoney Creek, Ont. With the help of LUTW, the volunteers assisted local solar technicians in the installation of solar lighting systems in rural homes and schools where access to grid electricity is not currently feasible.
Two volunteer groups, deployed in October and November 2017, began their assignment in Lima, Peru, where they spent the first two days of their journey training with LUTW. Once trained, volunteers were flown to the project area of Huaraz for altitude acclimatization before heading off to different areas of the Ancash region
Alicia roomed with Dana Franzgrote, an emergency response advisor at Enbridge Gas Distribution. The pair hit it off right away. Integration was a hot topic in the mountains of Peru. “We learned so much about our companies from each other. I learned about why they manage the things they do,” Alicia said. “I also learned from Dana that Enbridge Gas Distribution cares about safety and about customers as much as we do,” she added. Alicia and Dana still stay in contact.
By the numbers
Individuals at Union Gas have made a real and lasting difference in the communities where they live and work.
For example, they take part in a program called Helping Hands in Action (HHIA). This program supports projects that improve, renovate or add tangible value to registered Canadian charitable organizations. Union Gas is also a huge supporter of United Way, as well as local community efforts.
Here’s a by-the-numbers look at some of our community involvement:
In 2017, 277 HHIA projects were completed
7,780 volunteer hours were logged by employees
Over the last 5 years, employees and retirees have completed 1,454 projects for organizations across Ontario.
United Way funds raised in 2017: $1,009,476
Money spread among 27 United Ways
Volunteering to help the next generation
Carlie Scalesse, an operations and maintenance engineer, is not one to sit still.
In addition to her full-time job with Union Gas, Carlie is an energetic and passionate volunteer for Youth Science – London and a mentor and chaperone of Team Canada at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).
Last year Carlie completed her second mentorship with Team Canada, as they competed in Los Angeles. Seven Canadian high school students competed against 1,700 students from over 75 countries. “It’s an honour to be a part of Team Canada,” said Scalesse. “You get to meet some of the brightest and most promising leaders of tomorrow in the science and engineering fields. Every year, I am blown away by these kids and the focused studies they are involved in.”
In 2018, she once again was mentoring/chaperoning the Team Canada finalists at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Pittsburgh. The team won a second-place medal, a third-place medal and three fourth-place medals.
Carlie is no stranger to competitions. When she was in Grade 12, she participated in the ISEF as a student with a project on autonomous robotics. Her work landed her first place in her category.
“My goal is to mentor the students since I understand what’s expected and understand how stressful the competition can be,” said Scalesse. “It can be nerve-wracking for the students who have not competed at this level before, and for some, it’s their first time travelling away from home.”
“I am thankful that I work for a company like Union Gas who strongly supports youth programming in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields,”
– Carlie Scalesse
ISEF is open to students in Grade 9 through to Grade 12 who have earned the right to compete at the international level by being a winner at a local, regional, state or national science fair. A team of experts from each country reviews each application and project, and then makes the tough choice on who gets to be part of Team Canada.
In addition to her ISEF involvement, Carlie is a Workshop Director for the Thames Valley Science and Engineering Fair and spends countless volunteer hours creating fun and interactive workshops that encourages active participation, creative thinking, and exploration of many aspects of STEM.
Operation Backpack Challenge
There is nothing like a bit of friendly competition between co-workers, especially when it benefits a child’s education.
Since 2015, Union Gas’ Operation BackPacks Challenge for United Way has sparked a spirited rivalry between departments and co-workers to donate money and school supplies for local students. Operation BackPacks Challenge participants hope to ensure every child has a backpack filled with all the necessities.
Last year, Union Gas’ Operation BackPacks Challenge for United Way contributed 326 backpacks.
“Education is so important for allowing kids to follow their dreams,” said Sharon Roberts, one of two Union Gas Operation Backpacks Challenge coordinators.
“Union Gas is equipping students with the tools to navigate the world— a gift that truly keeps giving.”
– Sharon Roberts
Money and supplies are raised through pizza days or bingo or financial donations.
The challenge is always a great precursor to the United Way campaign launch.
During the September 2017 Union Gas United Way campaign launch, it was announced that Union Gas contributed 962 backpacks, an increase of 636.
Empowering our communities
Union Gas is an enthusiastic supporter of United Way and the work they do to strengthen our community. Every year our employees, retirees and volunteers give of themselves to raise money to help support those in need.
Connecting communities to what matters
From north to south, from large to small, Ontario’s communities need affordable, reliable energy that helps them grow and supports great quality of life. Learn how natural gas is helping Walpole Island First Nation and Nipissing First Nation meet economic and environmental goals and how Union Gas is working to help connect communities to what matters.
Helping Hands in Action
Union Gas employees and retirees visited C. M. Wilson Conservation Area in Chatham-Kent to work with the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority to help restore the park and improve trails as part of the company’s Helping Hands in Action program. By contributing their “sweat equity” volunteers help improve, renovate and add tangible value to non-profit and charitable organizations in their communities.