2014: United Way, Alyeska — A 50-year legacy of giving
Alyeska and Alaska’s United Ways: 50+ years of community impact
While Alyeska and the state of Alaska celebrate the 45th anniversary of TAPS operations this summer, another significant milestone that’s made a different type of powerful impact on Alaska’s communities and residents passed by quietly recently: Alyeska and its staff have been community partners with Alaska’s United Way agencies for more than 50 years.
Yes, TAPS startup occurred in 1977, but Alyeska Pipeline Service Company was formed in 1970, as a separate corporation by the then eight TAPS Owners. That year, Alyeska employees had their first United Way campaign. Roots and connections were planted, and since, tens of millions of dollars have been given by employees and the company to Alaska’s United Ways; our pipeline people have logged countless hours of United Way volunteering, from providing individual talents to team-building Day of Caring work, to holding leadership positions on Alaska United Way committees and boards. The Valdez United Way is entirely volunteer-led: no surprise that Alyeska staff, current and past, are well-represented there. And Alyeska employees are also passionate advocates for United Way and its many community nonprofit partners across Alaska.
The United Way network of agencies has a community impact legacy of 135 years, yet back in the 1970s, in Alaska and many other places, its fundraising efforts were driven by and directed to the Community Chest and United Fund, which were run by United Way. To eliminate confusion while unifying and elevating its brand, United Way of America was launched in 1970 followed by the early version of its now ubiquitous logo in 1972. This transformation slowly evolved to its worldwide identity moving forward. In 1974, United Ways raised $1 billion for the first time.
Following suit, in 1972, the United Way of Tanana Valley changed its name from its previous identities of the Fairbanks Federated Fund (1956) and United Good Neighbors (1965).
A 1972 Alyeska newsletter article celebrates its United Fund campaign in which it raised more than $10,000 with employee and company giving from its four branches – Anchorage ($4,612), Houston ($3,827), Bellevue ($1653), and Fairbanks ($1,490). The story notes, “Alyeska’s corporate contribution in Anchorage enabled the Community Chest – United Way fund drive to exceed $400,000 for the first time in its history.
Today, Alyeska and its staff continue strengthening those roots and connections with Alaska’s United Ways. Here is what that relationship means to Alyeska staff and United Way leaders across the state.
Clark Halvorson, President & CEO of United Way of Anchorage: “Alyeska Pipeline Service Company is a company of changemakers. Your generosity is legendary – from the very first year Alyeska existed, there was an employee campaign. That highly successful campaign ran for seven years before the pipeline was even completed in 1977 and continues to this day. Since 1977, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company employees have raised more than $22 million for United Way employee campaigns. But what impresses me about your efforts is how your fundraising knits together both your employees, through engaging workplace campaigns, and your community, through the impact of your giving. The contributions of Alyeska employees, and the matching funds from the company, have powered every community initiative at United Way since your first campaign in 1970. On behalf of United Way of Anchorage and above all, the people we serve throughout Alaska, thank you for your support.”
Anne Branshaw, Integrated Planning Supervisor, Valdez: “As an Alyeska employee serving on the Valdez United Way Board, not only am I honored to represent Alyeska in the United Way organization, I also take great pride in knowing that when it comes to supporting and serving the ever-growing needs of those in Valdez and surrounding communities, Alyeska steps up in a big way. As a former Co-Chair for Alyeska’s (Valdez) United Way Campaign I have witnessed, firsthand, the overwhelming generosity of Alyeska employees. The thousands of dollars raised each year by Alyeska donors is evident in the success of organizations in this community such as local youth sports leagues, support services for our elderly and handicapped, crisis support centers, and numerous other services aimed at improving the lives and livelihood of those around us. In addition to donations, the genuine graciousness of Alyeska employees to create fun and unique ways to fundraise, put in endless volunteer hours, and advocate for the United Way is admirable. As one of several Alyeska employees who currently serve on the local United Way board, we are taking the extra step to ensure our ongoing partnership and community-focused support remains steadfast in Valdez.”
Ron Robinson, retired Drawing SME, Anchorage: “I cannot remember a time when United Way was not a part of the Alyeska culture of giving. Giving to United Way is an investment in the communities we live in. Alyeska matched every dollar donated to the United Way campaign which doubled the impact of the individual investment. The United Way campaign was highly anticipated because there would be fun activities. A friendly, yet competitive, event called the Oilympics pitted Alyeska against ARCO and BP. The results of the Oilympics was a better community to live in.”
David G. Wight, Alyeska President from 2000-2005: “Working at Alyeska, I found the organization to be extremely community focused. I think that Alyeska sits in a special place because of its reach throughout this state. Everywhere I went, I would see Alyeska people giving back in their community. United Way was another opportunity for us to help our communities, and our employees always jumped right into it. We always had people on United Way boards and committees. And we always had a lot of fun with our annual campaigns with positive activities, volunteer opportunities and conversations. When your employees are that generous, leadership has a responsibility to encourage and support that, which includes something like the match. But it’s also about being open to giving employees the time to volunteer. A lot of companies won’t do that, but that always felt like it was a part of the fabric of our organization, quite frankly. … And United Way has progressed so much in how they use the money they raise and better leverage it. How they focus on education, housing and food distribution, areas that touch everybody. They understand what the community needs and are more efficient than ever. We are proud to be associated with those organizations.”
Shana Clay, retired Compliance Coordinator, Fairbanks: “My introduction to volunteering with United Way began when I moved from Anchorage to Fairbanks in the early 1990s. That’s when I discovered a unique spirit that lives here; it’s a deep-seeded culture of the Fairbanks community that has survived since the pioneer days. I love being part of something that is good; where I can make a difference and I can witness the positive results. Volunteering alongside people who give and who care deeply about their community is really special.”
Stephanie Allen, Executive Director, United Way of Mat-Su: “When I first started working for United Way of Mat-Su in 2007, one of the first things I did was to read about the history of our organizations and to learn about our community partners and volunteers. I looked back at old scrapbooks and minutes and historical documents to totally immerse myself into the past of UWMS. One memory stands out to me in particular. The first year we were in operation, we had four business partners that immediately joined us and committed their support to the Mat-Su through United Way of Mat-Su. Alyeska Pipeline Service Company was one of the four original companies for UWMS and donated $11,724 our very first year! If you look at total giving over our 35 year history, Alyeska employees and contractors have given over $700,000! We are so truly honored and blessed to have Alyeska’s longtime partnership helping to support, strengthen and sustain critical infrastructure and programs for the Mat-Su community. Thank you, Alyeska Pipeline, and Happy 45th!”
John Brown, Electrical Technician, Pump Station 5: “For every blessing in my life, I know that there are a great many people that were and are not so fortunate as I. Of course, as full as life can get these days, that can be very easy to forget. That Alyeska makes such significant efforts to provide us opportunities to express our gratitude, either financially or through volunteering, speaks volumes to the character of the company. Their commitment to matching contributions, so that our individual efforts can be made more effective, says even more. I am extremely grateful to work for a company that invests resources into giving back and also for all the work done by the folks over at the United Way to facilitate the support of so many important and meaningful causes. It takes everyone chipping in to make the kind of impact that is truly possible, and when we do it together, the effect is magnified. At least for me, I certainly feel that I could always be doing more for others, but, knowing that however much I am contributing, whether it be time or money, is made more impactful by the efforts of Alyeska and the United Way, means a great deal to me.”
Amanda Hanson, Executive Director, United Way of the Tanana Valley: “Alyeska employees have shown incredible support for their communities by their generous giving throughout the years. Over the last 10 years, Alyeska employees have contributed over $1 million dollars to the United Way of the Tanana Valley, alone. Alyeska’s culture of compassion is not just a gift to the Tanana Valley, but to the entire state.”
Kassi Murray, Operations Engineer, Anchorage: “I give to United Way because I believe the money can make a big difference in our community. Every year I research specific nonprofits that are registered under United Way that I want my money to go towards. This year I donated to The Covenant House, Access Alaska, Alaska Literacy Program, and Challenge Alaska. I know my contributions will be used wisely and effectively through these organizations. … I am happy to work for Alyeska because they support donating to nonprofits through a one-to-one matching program and supporting employee engagement through volunteering. My experience as an employee has shown that Alyeska is committed to the communities we operate in, and UW is an avenue for our engagement.”
Shawn Eby, Civil/Structural Engineer, Anchorage: “My family didn’t have much growing up, but we made the most of it and we focused on what was important: supporting each other and giving what we could spare for the sake of others. I give to United Way because the support Alyeska has for philanthropy makes my donations twice as impactful, and provides me the flexibility to support the causes most important to me. I feel lucky to work for a company that makes giving so easy, and look forward to participating in the campaign each year. Some people really shine at all the different events. You get to see people in a positive light doing something they appreciate; it’s a lot of fun.”
Sue Brogan, Chief Operating Officer at United Way of Anchorage: “In my 25 years at United Way of Anchorage, I have seen how time and time again, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company leadership and employees have stepped up to lend a hand to help in their community. Volunteerism and helping neighbors are core values at Alyeska, and it shows. Whether walking in the cold to raise money for their neighbors who need help with utility bills or helping to construct a home for a family that needs it, their involvement is always hands-on. Thank you to employees who donated not only money, but also their time and expertise to tackle the most pressing problems in our community.”
Andres Morales, EP+R Director, Anchorage: “In the beginning, I told a co-worker that I had concerns about how United Way spent its money. He responded by sharing that you make things better by taking part and helping to improve them. He was right. Since that day, I have not regretted a single minute or dollar I have given United Way. This is an organization that supports dozens of clients in my community to make things better for the community I am a part of. That ethic of focusing money locally and in ways that can do the most good is amazing and unique. I’m proud to be part of it.”
Kathy LaForest, HR Generalist, Anchorage: “I was still new to Anchorage and missing Fairbanks when the 1991 United Way campaign rolled out and I attended a kickoff presentation hosted by community partners, to include a representative from AWAIC. I reached out to AWAIC afterwards and began volunteering there and over the years have enjoyed other rewarding opportunities with partner organizations, becoming connected with the Anchorage community and hopefully helping others along the way. I appreciate Alyeska’s significant commitment to United Way, allowing donations to go further, and providing additional funds to non-profits for volunteer time. I am grateful to the TAPS Team, providing care and support for people across Alaska.”
Betty Hoffman, Sr. Operations Coordinator, Valdez: “I give to United Way because there are multiple nonprofit organizations and excellent youth programs working hard in our communities that need a little extra support for educational materials, club equipment, scholarships, and many other health and human service needs. It makes my heart feel good knowing that I am helping to build a better tomorrow and keeping our community strong.”
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