Creation Ships First We Share Solar Units

Creation team members first heard about We Share Solar when Diana Ferrari, Director of Central Engineering at Creation Technologies learned about a suitcase building event at St Agnes of Assisi, where her daughter Julia attends school.  Diana couldn’t stop thinking about how to help this program as part of Creation’s Making a Difference initiative and one phone call to We Share Solar Co-Director and Co-Founder Gigi Goldman and they both realized that it was a perfect match.

The VAVE engineers at the Creation Milwaukee Business Unit connected with Hal Aronson, Co-founder and Director of  We Share Solar, and discussed different avenues for creating a lower cost  educational kit, the WSS601.   Our commodity managers and Vice President of Commodity Management, Steve McEuen sourced and quoted the material and was able to create the kit at a price below We Share Solar’s target.

Once we agreed to move forward and quote the project for manufacturing it was turned over to Robert Flores, Business Development Director for Creation Express Services out of San Jose, California.  Robert met with Hal Aronson to discuss their cost expectations and timelines.   Robert also worked very closely with Creation team members Chuck Herman, Customer Focused Team Leader and Juanita Wright, Procurement Specialist to make sure the project went smoothly.     “What really helped to get the project quoted and into production was communication,” said Robert Flores. “I was in constant communication with Hal, and then Chuck, Juanita, and I were meeting on a daily basis to discuss any changes to ensure the project kept moving forward to meet the aggressive deadlines, and we made sure everyone involved was kept up-to-date.“  Chuck and Juanita both agreed communication was the key to success.  Hal had given Creation some very aggressive timelines for delivery which could have been challenging due to some long lead time parts.   Juanita was able to find substitutions for those parts with shorter lead times and while we had already exercised a VAVE to drive out cost, Juanita was able to find even more cost savings and the project actually came in under budget.

Wendy Cross, Program Manager with We Share Solar, which is the specific group focused on these cases, was very impressed with the team in San Jose.   “Once everything was approved we were in a time crunch to ship with the start of the school year.  Chuck and the team in San Jose were able to ship 30 kits a day.    We exceeded the estimated schedule and shipped out well over 200 in the first week,” said Wendy.

We Care Solar facilitates the international deployment piece.  The model is that each school gets 6-8 suitcases, they keep 6 and deploy 2.    Each year participating schools will fundraise to try and buy more.  The teachers are very excited to have humanitarian project based learning as well as an opportunity to learn about wiring and circuitry.    Currently most of the cases are deployed to Kenya and Uganda so students can have lighting giving them more access to resources.   We Share Solar works with partners in Kenya that do the installation work, liaison in terms of choosing schools and in addition can help with maintenance.

And there is more!!!  October 24-25 there will be a Creation We Share Solar training event in Creation’s San Jose Business Unit.  Creation representatives from various business units and Creation Design Services will be on hand to learn how to lead suitcase building workshops. They will eventually host workshops with children in their home cities. Look for future updates on these events!

Learn more at: https://www.wesharesolar.org/

Creation shares knowledge and resources with We Share Solar to provide engineering education for students

When Diana Ferrari, Director of Central Engineering at Creation Technologies learned about a We Share Solar suitcase building event at St Agnes of Assisi, where her daughter Julia attends school she came away with more than the excitement of seeing her daughter with a multimeter and wiring diagrams. We Share Solar organization teaches children practical engineering skills to build solar suitcases that are then delivered as lighting solutions for schools in energy poor regions of the world.

Diana was already thinking about how to help this program as part of Creation’s Making a Difference initiative. She shared photos and her thoughts with fellow team members and there was an immediate interest with ideas being bounced around as to what we could do to help.

To get the ball rolling Diana reached out to Co-Director and Co-Founder Gigi Goldman at We Share Solar to ask if Creation Technologies could sponsor some suitcase building events. Once Gigi learned more about the company and capabilities she mentioned they were struggling to find ways to cost reduce the suitcase so that they could expand their program’s reach. “When I explained to her my role in Value Add Value Engineering (VAVE-cost reducing customer designs and working with commodity management to leverage Creation spend to source material), I think she almost fell out of her chair!” Diana stated.  We realized in that conversation that we had a perfect fit! Creation’s passion for Making a Difference, our ability to add value engineering resources and leverage our supply chain to cost down the product.

The VAVE engineers at the Creation Milwaukee Business Unit have connected with Hal Aronson, Founder and Director of Technology and Education at We Share Solar and are brainstorming different avenues for cost reduction in the unit.  In addition, our commodity managers and Vice President of Commodity Management, Steve McEuen have sourced and quoted the material and found a 50+% cost savings. In the future we are looking to partner with suppliers to help supply material at cost.  Joe Garcia, VP West Region Business Development and Mark Evans, VP and General Manager in San Jose have met with team members at We Share Solar and are looking to take over contract manufacturing (CM) services from their current CM out of the Creation San Jose Business Unit.

Hal Aronson remarked, “We Share Solar inspires students to work with technology to serve humanity through building solar electric systems.  We have spent the past 4 years developing our programs and proving the concept. To date we have trained 100 + teachers who have engaged 4,000 American and Canadian students deploying several hundred solar electric systems which have lit up the schools for over 35,000 students from energy poor countries and refugee camps. People love the program both for its service to humanity and for the way in which it engages and empowers students. The limiting factor in enabling greater numbers of schools to participate in our programs is the cost of the solar suitcase kits.   Creation Technologies is generously working with We Share Solar to dramatically lower our hardware costs; this will help us clear the major hurdle to growing our programs and impact. It has been a complete pleasure to work with the Creation Technologies’ VAVE team.  We went through the process thoroughly and at a good pace.  When I put forward a date by which we needed to start shipping kits to schools the team approached it with a “can do” attitude.  This will open up great opportunities to grow and sustain our reach.  This is the beginning of a beautiful partnership”

Gigi Goldman adds, “Our mission at We Share Solar is to inspire the next generation of change-makers.  In learning to build a Solar Suitcase and then sharing it with their counterparts who live in places of energy scarcity such as rural Kenya and Uganda, young people experience making a positive impact in the world through their own work.  We are especially excited about how this opens up the world of engineering and STEM to young women who see the purpose in the work and are excited to help others.   Hal Aronson and I co-created We Share Solar 4 years ago and have become more inspired by it every year as organizations like Creation Technologies embrace it and join us to make it even better and more accessible to communities they care about.  Together we are doing more than just telling the next generation to try to make the world a better place, we are giving them the tools to actually do it…from promoting sustainable green energy education to reaching across the globe with open hands, a generous heart and clean energy.  Everybody wins.”

Learn more at: https://www.wesharesolar.org/

Creation Takes a Group Ride for a Heartwarming Cause

ride1

In the middle of a normal work day, nearly 30 of our people left work to take an afternoon ride around a park in one giant red tandem bike.

While at first glance this might sound like a scene straight out of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the bikers had a legitimate excuse to momentarily ditch their desks.

For the first time, Creation Vancouver and HQ participated in Big Bike, a team event geared towards companies to raise funds for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. In the week leading up to the May 24th event, our Creation Vancouver Making a Difference (MAD) team held a bake sale and created an online donation page, raising close to $2000 that will go towards heart disease and stroke research.

Their reward? Taking the 30-seat, 2000 pound bike around a nearby business park for a 15-minute, 2 km ride.

“It was an exciting experience for such a worthy cause,” said Amy Lee, product engineer in the Vancouver business unit. “The weather was just right to do an outdoor activity like this.”

Prior to the ride, the organizers played a quick five minutes warm-up game with the Creation riders to educate them about the foundation and awareness of heart disease, as well as what to do when someone is having a stroke – CPR (i.e. call, push, restart). They also learned that there is an app for CPR. During the 2 km ride, the driver taught the riders the basic cycling hand signals.

“Some members put up the wrong hand when we made a turn and it would confuse the car behind us,” said Amy. “It was hilarious. It was a good team building event as we got to ride, chat and laugh together.”

But just as important as the fun and education, the event served a higher purpose for our company.

“Your health is one of the most important things in your life,” Amy said. “We’re happy that participating in events like this will raise awareness and funds for charities that help prevent and treat heart attacks.”

Big Bike was just one of several recent Making a Difference initiatives across Creation, with Making a Difference Day a key part of our 25th Anniversary celebrations. In June, for example, our team in BC raised funds through a food sale and raffle to benefit the Fort McMurray (Alberta) fire relief efforts. There was also a food drive and a glasses drive, where people donated old glasses frames to third world counties.

More info on BIG Bike: http://support.heartandstroke.ca/site/PageServer?pagename=BB2016_whatIsBigBike

ride2

ride3

 

I Took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Creation's President and CEO in ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Creation’s Executive Team raising funds and awareness for ALS IceBucketChallenge.

Last week, I accepted an Ice Bucket Challenge to raise funds and awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease), a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord and for which there is no current cure or treatment. About 2 in 100,000 people have ALS, which can strike anyone.

If you haven’t heard about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which went viral earlier this summer, accepting a challenge means that you commit to donating to the cause or having a bucket of ice water dumped on your head!

Like many people, I chose to do both.

And I didn’t take part alone.

It’s More Fun with Your Friends

The entire leadership team in Creation’s Toronto business unit decided to issue a personal challenge to me, as well as challenging some of our other Creation business units and teams.

https://www.youtu.be/87aBr0cuLJY?rel=0

 

It was only fitting that all of the members of our executive team in Vancouver that day accepted Toronto’s challenge along with me!

Many people from our Vancouver and Headquarters teams came out to watch. After all, seeing someone dump freezing water on their head is a lot of fun.

In exchange for the entertainment, we challenged everyone watching (in person and online) to get involved.

And so for every Creation person that takes the challenge, Creation Technologies will match your donation of $10.

And for every customer, supplier, friend, neighbour, and family-member you can convince to take the challenge along with you, Creation Technologies will match their donation of $10, too!

Did I mention that we’re also challenging our friends over at Birch Hill, our private equity partner? I can’t wait to see that video! Here’s ours:

https://www.youtu.be/sJg_bVdjtvM?rel=0

Making a Difference

I joined Creation this past April, and one of the things that stood out to me immediately was how people are truly friendly, helpful, and connected to each other and to our suppliers and customers. Our Making a Difference program, formalized in 2009, carries that spirit into the communities in which we live and work.

Our teams in all Creation business units are proud to be able to give back, and feel very fortunate to meet the amazing people and learn about the amazing programs that do so much to make the world a better place.

I’ve heard so many wonderful stories about how we’ve planted trees, painted gyms, made sandwiches, washed boats, built houses, dug latrines (yes, really), and shaved eyebrows.

And now in true Creation fashion, teams across our business units have come together for each other and for ALS, dumping frigid water on their heads in Ice Bucket Challenges.

You can see more of our videos, here on Creation’s YouTube Channel.

 

The goal of all non-profit organizations is to find impactful ways to raise awareness about critical issues.

I’d say that the ALS Association has done a tremendous job of that through the Ice Bucket Challenges.

I’d also say that I’m really lucky to have a team like mine.

Please take this opportunity to learn more about the fight to treat and cure ALS through research and advocacy at www.alsa.org.

 

Making a Difference: Opportunity of a Lifetime in Swaziland

As I reflect on the promise of 2014, I would like to share with you my story of what was an opportunity of a lifetime for me.

About this time last year, I’d just returned from a trip to Swaziland.

For anyone not familiar with the country, Swaziland is a land-locked kingdom in Africa, bordered by South Africa and Mozambique. Swaziland has a population of about 1 million people, and the average lifespan of a Swazi is 48 years.

Yes, 48 years. (Just a few years ago, this was even lower at just over 30 years).

Swaziland has the highest HIV/AIDS infection rate in the world at about 27%. As a result, there are over 100,000 orphaned and vulnerable children who have been left to fend for themselves.

So what was I doing there?

Facilitating Crucial Conversations in Swaziland

I was in Swaziland because I’d been invited to facilitate VitalSmarts’ Crucial Conversations training to leaders in a town called Bulembu.

Bulembu is an abandoned mining town that was purchased by three entrepreneurs with the vision of creating an orphanage using existing infrastructure. The vision for Bulembu is to create a self-sustaining community that can support up to 2,000 orphans (currently at about 500).

A view of the many ex-miner homes that are being renovated into homes for children
A view of the many ex-miner homes that are being renovated into homes for children
This view shows Bulembu from the opposite direction (top row of homes)
This view shows Bulembu from the opposite direction (top row of homes)

The team at Creation Technologies has been supporting Bulembu for the last 6 years as the global focus of our Making a Difference initiative.

As a certified VitalSmarts trainer, I had the opportunity to share a cornerstone of Creation’s Leadership Development training with the great team in Bulembu.

For 2 days, I lead a Crucial Conversations training session with leaders from the childcare group, some of the commercial endeavours, and teachers from the school. Many of these people were volunteers committed to improving their skills.

As usual with Crucial Conversations training, there was a high level of engagement and we had particularly animated discussion around culture.

Most significant for me in this session was how evident it became that the objective of ‘Getting Unstuck’ is really a universal one.

Happy successful participants after two long days
Happy successful participants after two long days

A Success Story, How Bulembu Has Succeeded in ‘Getting Unstuck’

The Kids

The two days of training flew by and I was able to get some time with the Bulembu children as well, ranging in age from newborn to 22 years old. What an amazing experience.

The children are a pleasure to be with. They are happy and excited to engage with visitors.

When children are first adopted into the orphanage they stay for several months in a Welcome Center where they learn skills that will help them integrate into the community.

Before Bulembu, many children have never seen toilets or showers or eaten with a knife and fork. They have just been surviving. The Welcome Center helps prepare them for their new life.

When the children are 4 years of age and older, they are moved into small houses (which are actually renovated miner’s homes). There they live with their new family: five or six other children and a house mother or “auntie”.

Five young boys in their home on the hill
Five young boys in their home on the hill
Some movie time for young students
Some movie time for young students

Just like in many families, the Bulembu kids are expected to take on certain responsibilities such as washing their own clothes, (which they do in buckets and then hang out on a line to dry), taking their turns cleaning up after meals, washing floors in the dining hall, and getting their homework done.

The Town

A key component of the revitalization of Bulembu is building up commercial businesses that will be able to support the community long-term.

For example, there’s a water-bottling business that supplies a number of local communities with bottled water.

There’s a saw mill that processes the many trees that are in the surrounding hills.
The saw mill that processes the many trees that are in the surrounding hills.

There’s a saw mill that processes the many trees that are in the surrounding hills.

A dairy and a bakery supply goods that are mostly used for feeding the children, but will hopefully be able to provide enough products to sell into other communities.

A recent addition is a Conference Center (where we conducted the Crucial Conversations session), complete with a training kitchen that, as part of the Bulembu Vocational Training Centre, will give vocational skills to students after high school. The Conference Center complements the existing Lodge that is open to the public.

How Will You Make a Difference in 2014?

Like I said off the top, visiting Bulembu was an opportunity of a lifetime for me.

I would like to thank The Bulembu Foundation for inviting me, Creation Technologies for supporting my trip, VitalSmarts’ Influencer Institute for providing the Participants Kits at no cost, and the Crucial Conversations participants who gave their time and attention to learn new skills.

It was incredible to get to meet the kids, see firsthand the tremendous things that the people are doing to rebuild a community, and lend a hand by sharing some of my own skills.

What can you do to help Make a Difference in 2014?

Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day

I bet my mom still has the thickly bound project I turned in for a grade 8 assignment on acid rain.

I can remember the cover clearly; “It’s Raining Cats and Dogs”, it said, and I spent hours lovingly illustrating and colouring it with my giant box of Laurentian pencil crayons. As I carefully blended colour upon colour, I thought about fossil fuels and pH balance and dying forests and sick fish.

I thought about the impact that my grade 8 self was having on those forests and fish.

And I made a choice to do better.

I suppose that’s what we call a ‘formative moment’ since today I still think about dying forests and sick fish, and I still try to do better where I can.

And while acid rain is no longer the affliction it was in the 80s, it and many other socially charged issues face us. As individuals. As organizations and institutions and governments.

In the electronics industry, for example, legislation continues to emerge from countries around the globe. Technology is evolving so rapidly and the demand for the ‘latest and greatest’ so high that many electronic products become obsolete seemingly overnight.

As a result, landfills are overflowing with electronic waste, and the chemicals therein. (It would be remiss of me not to state explicitly here that Creation’s environmental policy accounts for the safe and responsible disposal of all electronics and chemicals).

How much waste, you ask?

A whopping 40 million tonnes each year, if you can believe it.

E-Waste

The intent of each of the emerging environmental regulations is the same – take aim at this electronic waste and its effect on the health of our communities at large. The reality is that their divergent implementation processes and requirements are having an adverse effect.

But, (with thanks to those groups actively working toward the establishment of globally harmonized environmental policy), I digress.

What I really want to say is that it’s easy to choose to do better. Even if it’s just a little bit at a time.

And what better day than Earth Day to begin to do that little bit better?

Occurring each April since 1970, Earth Day is a day to reflect on our impact on the earth, our local ecosystem and the environment in general. It’s also a day to take action.

In 2013, it’s estimated that more than 1 billion people in 192 countries are participating in Earth Day.

Like Kermit says, sometimes it’s not easy being green.

http://www.youtu.be/yKoLBSK8SSE&w?rel=0

So to help you be one of the 1 billion, here are some simple Earth Day tips. To help you avoid stopping at Earth Day, there’s one for you try each week for a year.

Try making just one new change or adding one new habit or resolve each week. Share your favourite tips with your friends and family. You’ll be surprised at the impact you’ll have.

What are your favourite Earth Day tips? Please share them in the comments!

52 Green Tips for Earth Day

Save on Gas

    1. Walk, cycle or use public transportation.
    2. Organize a carpool.
    3. Don’t be a lead foot. Avoid aggressive driving as rapid acceleration and braking can decrease gas mileage.
    4. Check your tire pressure at least twice a month and add air when needed. Not only will your car handle better, but under-inflation increases tire wear, reduces your fuel economy by up to 3% and leads to higher greenhouse gas emissions and releases of air pollutants. If you don’t know the correct tire pressure for your vehicle, you can find it listed on the door to the glove compartment or on the driver’s-side door pillar.
    5. Check your owner’s manual to see what maintenance you might have skipped. A well-maintained car is more fuel-efficient, produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions, is more reliable, and is safer! Also check and replace your vehicle’s air filter regularly.
    6. If it’s clear that a train or other barrier will block your vehicle for more than 30 seconds, turn off the engine. An idling vehicle burns more fuel than a simple restart. And you won’t be polluting when the engine is off.

Change How You Think About Food

    1. Consider where your food comes from (buying locally where possible) and try to alter your menu to buy seasonal foods. The average meal travels 1,200 miles from the farm to your plate. Buying locally will save fuel and keep money in your community.
    2. Buy fresh instead of processed foods, which require more energy to produce, starting from extraction, manufacturing, transport, advertising and marketing.
    3. Don’t use straws for drinks and shakes.
    4. Do not buy bottled water.
    5. Buy organic foods as much as possible. Organic soils capture and store carbon dioxide at much higher levels than soils from conventional farms. If we grew all of our corn and soybeans organically, we’d remove 580 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere!
    6. Eat less meat. Methane is the second most significant greenhouse gas and cows are one of the greatest methane emitters. Their grassy diet and multiple stomachs cause them to produce methane, which they exhale with every breath.
    7. Avoid eating fish such as monkfish, farmed Atlantic salmon, bluefin tuna, orange roughy and others that have low populations, poor management of stocks, habitat damage and over-fishing. A full list of these fish can be found at www.seachoice.org.

Save a Tree

    1. Read your daily dose of news online.
    2. Work digitally whenever possible. Stop printing, but if you must, print double-sided.
    3. Buy recycled paper products. It takes less 70 to 90% less energy to make recycled paper and it prevents the loss of forests worldwide.
    4. When you’ve finished reading the latest issue of your favourite magazine or other periodical, don’t toss in it in the recycling box (and definitely don’t throw it in the trash)! Instead, drop it off at your gym, office, local gathering spot, or swap it with a friend.
    5. Use a reusable ‘canvas’ shopping bag. Avoid use of plastic shopping bags.
    6. Plant a tree. A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.
    7. If using solid wood for a renovation project, select products with the Forest Stewardship Council label, certifying the wood was responsibly grown and harvested. Or find salvaged wood products at local used-building materials retailers.
    8. Dimensional lumber that is 2-by-10 and larger often comes from increasingly rare old-growth forests. So for larger lumber and beams, consider engineered materials made of wood harvested from faster-growing tree species and glued together to form a finished product. These products often perform better than solid-sawed wood, which is subject to warping, splitting and cracking.

Stop Pollution, Protect Your Health

    1. Avoid the store-bought air fresheners and purifiers (including the ones with a “natural” or “green” label) that actually leech toxins into the air you and your family breathe. Common ingredients include phthalates (linked to birth defects) and VOCs (linked to kidney damage, liver damage and damage to the central nervous system including the brain). Scary, right?
      Instead, try simmering cinnamon, orange peel, and cloves on the stove. It’ll give your home the fresh smell of, well, cinnamon, orange peel and cloves.
    2. Use baking soda or vinegar with lemon juice in small dishes to absorb odours around the house.
    3. To create a tub-scum cleaner, mix baking soda and a “green” liquid soap to a honey-thick consistency. Apply it with a little elbow grease and perhaps a splash of white vinegar.
    4. Plain water on a cloth works great for the vast majority of dusting chores. If in need of something more powerful, choose the least-toxic product for the job at hand.
    5. Reduce your garbage. Can you reuse the item you are about to throw away? If not, what about someone else?
    6. Do not idle your car.
    7. Dispose of toxic chemicals appropriately. For example, mercury is present in small quantities in fluorescent bulbs, and in larger quantities in older thermostats and some light switches.
      These items must be disposed of at a hazardous waste collection site.
    8. Choose low-toxic paints that also are low in volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which convert to gas at room temperatures. Outdoors, certain VOCs react with sunlight to create smog. Indoors, VOCs can irritate lungs and cause allergic reactions. Check the paint label for a VOC level below 150 grams per liter. Zero-VOC paints also are available.
    9. The common household cleaners under our sinks contain many chemicals that are proven to be associated with chronic, or long-term, effects such as cancer and hormone disruption. And that lovely, “fresh” smell? The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health found that 30% of the substances used in the fragrance industry are toxic, but because the chemical formulas of fragrances are considered trade secrets, companies aren’t required to list their ingredients but merely label them as containing “fragrance.”Ready to try an alternative?
      • For an all-purpose cleaner, mix vinegar and salt for a good surface cleaner. Pour some baking soda and vinegar on a damp sponge. It will clean and deodorize all kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
      • To clean your windows, mix equal amounts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Wipe the glass with newspaper for a streak-free shine.
      • To polish your faucets? Use cucumber! (Yes, really). Rub cucumber on the surface to clean the area and bring back shine by removing years of tarnish.
      • Find more good ideas like these here: http://eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm

Water Conservation

    1. Shorten your shower time, turn off the tap when soaping and don’t use more water than you need.
    2. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth.
    3. Try not to water your lawn.
    4. Choose a dual-flush toilet.

Energy Conservation

  1. Install a programmable thermostat that lets you automatically lower the temperature when no one is home or when the family is asleep. According to Energy Star, this can save up to $150 a year.
  2. Only run your dishwasher when there’s a full load and use the energy-saving setting.
  3. Refrigerators and freezers account for almost 20% of a home’s energy use, so select energy-efficient models when buying a replacement.
  4. Unplug your computer, television, stereo, microwave, cell phone charger and other electronic appliances and gadgets instead of just turning them off. Save an average of $90 a year by shutting down a home computer every night.
  5. Avoid air purifiers and fresheners as well as insect repellents that plug into electric outlets.
  6. If you need a new computer, buy a laptop if you can. A laptop uses just 25% of the power required by a desktop computer.
  7. Use cold water for your laundry. It can save up to 80% of the energy required to wash clothes.
  8. Plant a tree that will shade your house as well as reduce the need for air conditioning. Shade provided by trees can also reduce your air conditioning bill by 10 to 15%.
  9. Insulate and weatherize your home. Properly insulating your walls and ceilings can save 25% of your home heating bill and 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Caulking and weather-stripping can save another 1,700 pounds per year.
  10. The average home contains two televisions, a DVD player and three phones. These home electronics can use more energy than you think. As you replace existing equipment, look for Energy Star models that help reduce carbon emissions.
  11. Turn off the lights when you’re not in the room!
  12. Turn off your pilots on your furnace if and when you do not need to heat your house.
  13. Turn off the pilot on your water heater when you go on vacation.
  14. Set up a ‘charging station’ for equipment that needs charging — plug everything into a power bar and turn that off until you actually need to charge something.
  15. Replace incandescent light bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) or LEDs.
  16. Turn down your water heater.
  17. Turn down your thermostat.
  18. Always recycle. It’s a no-brainer. One of the easiest ways to ‘go green’ is to recycle your waste. If you’re entertaining, make it easy for your guests to recycle, too.

Great Reasons to Volunteer Your Time Serving Meals

Mission Possible
One way the Mission Possible organization provides support to those in need is by serving regular meals on Vancouver’s Downtown East Side.

Do you know who relies on food banks, soup kitchens, shelters and meal programs? Would you be surprised to learn that it’s single-parent families, two-parent families, people on social assistance, children, seniors, working people and homeowners alike?

Mission Possible is one organization that aims to lend support to those in need. It is a humanitarian agency that transforms lives by helping those challenged by homelessness and poverty achieve a renewed sense of dignity and purpose through meaningful work. In addition to its other programs, several times a week the Mission serves meals to those in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side.

Servign Meals at Mission Possible
People helping to serve meals through the kitchen window at Mission Possible

As part of Creation’s ‘Working Together to Make a Difference’ program, I’ve had the opportunity to serve lunch at Mission Possible three times since we formed a relationship with the organization in 2008. It’s always an unforgettable experience.

Are you looking for a way to give back this holiday season, and the whole year through? Try volunteering to spend some time serving meals at a local mission or shelter. Based on my experience with Mission Possible, here are my top reasons to get involved. Some of them might surprise you.

 

7 Reasons You Should Volunteer Serving Meals

  1. The environment is a model for how to treat everyone with respect and dignity.
  2. Learn about how to build great teams and practice your teamwork skills – for example, each volunteer is assigned a clearly defined role which makes the kitchen friendly and efficient.
  3. Have interesting conversations! I always enjoy the diverse discussions I have with the Mission guests about things like who Creation is as a company, the God particle, and Canadian politics.
  4. Have even more interesting conversations! In addition to learning from the Mission guests, I enjoy the great discussion with the staff about their lives and involvement with the agency.
  5. It’s a good reminder to respect everyone’s differences, at home and at work – for example, respecting an individual’s preference to be left alone and not engage in a conversation.
  6. It’s like a family – it’s fun, and you get to meet some great characters. During my most recent visit I had to be quick to get out of the way of an 80-year-old, confident man who bypassed the line and went straight to his regular chair. (The Mission does its best to accommodate the elderly by serving them at their table).
  7. Pause, reflect, and appreciate people who are volunteering with severe disabilities of their own. What’s our excuse to not volunteer at a broader level?

 

serving meals that are healthy
Organizations like Mission Possible work very hard to provide healthy, filling meals to those in need


So what are you doing this Christmas?

If you are interested in volunteering your time or making a donation, please contact an organization in your area. You’ll really be Making a Difference.

In Canada: Volunteer Canada
In the USA: VolunteerMatch
In China: www.ngocn.net
In Mexico: Please share any tips you have for how Mexican residents can volunteer in Mexico!

I’m Glad I’m MAD (Making a Difference)

Lexington Rescue Mission
Members of the Creation—Lexington Making a Difference Team on One of Their Visits to the Lexington Rescue Mission

As a new corporate member of the Lexington, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, I recently attended my first event: Women Leading Kentucky Business and Leadership Conference. It was an exciting day spent networking and learning from professional women in the Lexington area.

About Women Leading Kentucky

Co-Founded in 2000 by Janet Holloway, Women Leading Kentucky is an organization that recognizes and fosters education, mentoring and networking for women all of ages, enabling them to lead, learn achieve and give back to their communities.

Each year Women Leading Kentucky identifies 8-10 undergraduate students in Kentucky colleges/universities for a one-time scholarship award of $1,000-$1,500 based upon their leadership abilities. Janet along with the Board of Directors also hosts a spring conference where they invite key women leaders to speak about their professional careers, personal experiences and initiatives taken to make a difference in their communities.

Transforming Lives

The theme of this year’s conference was Transforming Lives: Celebrating Women and Children. This theme resonated with me particularly as I lead Creation’s MAD (Making A Difference) initiative for the Lexington Business Unit, which works to help those within our communities.

I was interested to hear what Sandra Pianalto, President and CEO, Fourth District Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and Molly Barker, Founder of Girls on the Run International and Author, had to say about their personal experiences.

Meet Sandra

Sandra Pianalto’s job makes her one of the most powerful figures in Greater Cleveland, Ohio. She’s a member of the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee, which sets the cost and availability of the nation’s money and credit.

Pianalto’s parents decided to leave their native home when she was 5 and move to the U.S. so that their children could have a better education. Her parents struggled to acclimate, but Pianalto learned from them some basic lessons:

  • Embrace change
  • Move out of your comfort zone
  • Never underestimate people

While these lessons might seem simple they are some of the most difficult. It is sometimes scary to step out of our comfort zone into the unknown to help those that are less fortunate. Pianalto spoke passionately about engaging her team and community. She is always asking questions and encouraging people to share ideas and take risks.

Meet Molly Barker

Molly began running at the age of 15 when she found herself stuck in the “girl box”. The girl box is where girls go when they begin to morph into what they think they should be instead of being who they really are. The messages vary but are rooted in the belief that girls and women must conform to standards that are often unattainable and dangerous to our health and well-being.

During a run in 1993, after years of questioning her self-worth and self-image, Molly found the inspiration that grew into Girls on the Run. In 1996 she piloted the earliest version of the 24-lesson curriculum with 13 brave girls. 26 girls came the next season, then 75, and so on. Today, Girls on the Run is offered in over 150 cities across North America and thousands of girls’ and women’s lives have been changed by the program.

Since creating Girls on the Run, she has authored two books, ‘Girls on Track: A Parent’s Guide to Inspiring our Daughters to Achieve a Lifetime of Self-Esteem and Respect’, and ‘Girls Lit From Within’.

Having struggled with self-esteem and body image issues for many years I can understand and appreciate Molly’s efforts. One negative comment, taken to heart, may set forth a chain of events that can lead young women and even men down a dangerous path.

So, Why ‘I’m Glad I’m MAD’??

When I refer to being glad that I’m MAD, I really mean that I’m glad I can help in Making A Difference in the lives of those around me.

One of the things I love most about Creation’s culture is that people are passionate about helping others. Whether it’s a food, clothing or book drive, or a shoreline clean-up, all 11 manufacturing business units have a MAD team that works continuously to reach out to those in their community.

Does your company have a Making a Difference initiative? What can you do to help those around you? Any ideas you would like to share?

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