SoldierCare and The National Grid Shift

Allen HechtThis week, in the lead-up to this year’s Chairman’s Awards ceremony in London, we continue to interview our finalists to find out more about their projects and what it means to them to reach the final.

The awards recognize and celebrate the efforts of employees who have gone above and beyond their day jobs.

To celebrate our accolade as Responsible Business of the Year 2014, we have a special Volunteer of the Year Award this year. This award recognizes exceptional efforts by individuals who have given time in their local communities, galvanised others to get involved and made a difference to their cause.

Both finalists for this award were nominated by their colleagues. Our first finalist interview is with Allen Hecht from the US for his work developing both SoldierCare and ‘The National Grid shift’.

Allen Hecht, Senior Counsel II, Environmental

What can you tell us about your initiatives?

With SoldierCare, teams of employees (250 participants) send ‘letters from home’ and care-packages to personnel serving overseas each month – working from the ‘AnySoldier’ website to identify active-member men and women in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries.

With ‘The National Grid Shift’, our employees serve as concierges at Kennedy Airport, greeting and thanking soldiers returning from active duty. Fifty volunteers work difficult-to-fill Sunday night shifts, all of which are now full for 2015.

What does it mean to you to reach the final of the Chairman’s Awards?

It’s exciting and I appreciate being selected. More importantly, it’s not only very kind of the Company to go to such a length to recognize employees, but it encourages folks to keep on doing good things. Thanks very much.

What are you most looking forward to about the ceremony?

Meeting my colleagues and learning about their great efforts and good work.

Allen’s nominator believed he should win the Volunteer of the Year Award because …

Allen developed the program in a ‘grassroots’ way – reaching out to individuals through volunteer groups HandsTogether NY and the Veterans Employee Resource Group (VERG). What started as a small pilot on Long Island quickly caught on across our Northeast service area. Today it exemplifies National Grid’s – and our employees’ – care for the community and commitment to Inclusion & Diversity, helping soldiers of all races, ethnicities, genders and backgrounds.

‘Kindness’ is Allen’s mantra and most often-used word. He treats all participants and programme coordinators with gratitude and respect. He continually gives them, not himself, credit for making this all happen. He communicates regularly with updates on new teams and to ‘thank you for your kindness’. And his volunteer work at National Grid is an extension of long-time volunteering in his community and for his local synagogue.

Allen truly is one of the most selfless, giving people I’ve had the pleasure to get to know and work with. And this is just one more ‘above and beyond’ example of what a great idea, a straightforward plan and a lot of kindness can accomplish.

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