We are the People
Give our time volunteering and make a difference by helping to improve life in the communities where we all work and live, just like our Volunteers did in 2022.
For over a century, volunteerism has played a vital role in the GE culture. The Avio Aero Volunteers group has also been making a practical contribution to the program since 2014, undertaking various projects and activities every year. These involve employees from every site and department. People who spend time taking part in small or large efforts aimed at improving and supporting people's lives and the communities or areas where they do their daily work.
Voluntary work is important for communities because these actions directly benefit the people who need them, creating a close relationship between employees and the local area and improving the general quality of life in the community itself. To quote Avio Aero's Diversity leader, Carlamaria Tiburtini: “volunteering is an integral part of our way of working. It reinforces a sense of belonging and helps create a positive atmosphere giving something in return to those areas where we’re based.”
It is also important for the volunteers because it is much more than just pleasing or satisfying. It helps people develop skills, helps them put things into perspective, it allows them to share expertise, and extends our local network.
It is important for Avio Aero because it teaches people to be careful and attentive leaders, developing a feeling of involvement and responsibility.Many of the volunteer projects are target education, focusing on schools (up to high school level) and areas where there is a clear need for more training, cooperating with other Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), such as the Women Network. Other projects are related to health, where programs focusing on health in those communities where Avio Aero is based, and others on sustainability. The latter include environmental education and activities such as cleaning up public spaces: to help conserve parts of the city, make them more pleasant, and enhance the architectural heritage.
The Avio Aero Volunteers have made a real, practical contribution to the program throughout 2022, with 350 employees taking part and giving a total of more than 500 hours of their time. We discussed this with Paola Napoletano, Manufacturing Projects & Initiatives Specialist at Avio Aero Brindisi, and the Volunteers' Group Leader for the whole company.
Paola, what prompted you to get involved in the world of corporate volunteering?
“My interest in volunteering began when I was a young girl. I used to help my father with the many activities he was always involved in, working on behalf of the neediest people in our town of Brindisi. After I graduated, I joined the Italian Red Cross as a Volunteer First Responder and, for about 15 years, I gave up my free time to helping people in vulnerable situations which involved the Red Cross, including hospital assistance, health care during demonstrations, reception for non-EU migrants, and support in natural disasters and emergencies. At a certain point, my work and family commitments no longer allowed me to serve as a volunteer, and I had to leave the Red Cross. But my dedication never disappeared. So, when I discovered that our company had a Volunteer group, I immediately wanted to be part of it. I started giving my time with renewed enthusiasm, knowing that my work had the compassionate backing of everyone throughout the company.”
What projects did you carry out in 2022, and which of these affected you most and why?
“We carried out 70 projects in 2022: they ranged from collecting blankets, food, and personal hygiene products for the Ukrainian people, to the Caritas canteen service in the diocese of Brindisi, to fund-raising markets and collections to support families in our area. Of all these activities, the one that affected me the most was the collection for Ukraine. As there was such a clear need, we joined forces with all our other centers to collect as many things as possible. We raised awareness among our colleagues, and crucially, we involved other local associations in trying to encourage people to play an active part. By doing this, we became a reference point in our city.”
Volunteering and sustainable development: how do you think the activities of the Volunteers can play a part in this?
“The Volunteers activities can help towards sustainable development through the involvement of families in some of our projects. For example, we can collect paper or plastic caps easily at home as well as in the company. This spreads the message to other family members to take greater care of the environment. I see this in my children and grandchildren, who try to help me carry out projects. My heart fills with joy when my grandson excitedly gives me a bag of bottle caps he collected.”
What plans or goals do the Avio Aero Volunteers have for 2023?
“Right now, with the terrible news coming out of Turkey and Syria, supporting the people there will be our top priority in 2023. We're considering collecting the basic necessities to send to the people affected by this enormous tragedy (this question was posed on 7 February - ed). Meanwhile, the other objectives we've set ourselves mainly involve supporting the neediest. We have several projects in mind involving local associations already operating in this field.”
"The work of our Volunteers increases the impact of the social and environmental projects that local associations carry out"
Avio Aero knows that it is a community. It is aware of the importance of maintaining close relationships with the various communities that host it. This point was emphasized by the two leading "sponsors" of the Volunteers group - Francesco Macchiaroli, General Counsel of Avio Aero, and Nino Atzei, VP Operations of GE Additive and Avio Aero.
“Our corporate volunteering projects stem from a desire to contribute to the sustainable growth of the communities in which we live and work every day. Every year, we sponsor projects to promote social inclusion and protect the local area. The work of our Volunteers increases the impact of the social and environmental projects that local associations carry out. We know it's the right thing to do and being committed to doing the right thing is a crucial requirement in our company.”
Cover illustration, Federica Sella Nora.