Last Updated: 04/05/2013*
Justin McNamee has a talent for planning. So when he heard about a chance to volunteer at an event for Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, a group he respects deeply, he jumped at the chance. That was nine years ago – and he’s been doing it every year since.
Raytheon’s Justin McNamee (right) with Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell at an event to honor recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Photo courtesy of Justin McNamee.
McNamee handles countless details at the Dallas event every year: from taking photos to arranging honorees' visits to local schools. He makes sure things get done – a task for which he’s been well-prepared as a senior program planner at Raytheon.
Across the United States, Raytheon employees logged more than 200,000 volunteer hours last year. They're making a real difference -- one student, one community, one veteran at a time -- just like McNamee.
“While everyone else is running around like a chicken with their head cut off, Justin is quietly taking care of everything that needs to get done,” said fellow volunteer Rob Kyker, who has volunteered alongside McNamee for years. “Our nickname for him is ‘Justin the Genius.’ There’s nothing he can’t fix.”
Encouraging a Love of Learning
Raytheon’s Lisa Currie shows Madelyn, age 4, how to “surf on air” by testing out a MathMovesU experiment that involved a balloon, CD and bottle-cap to create a hovercraft vehicle at the 2013 AAAS Family Science Days in Boston, Mass. Photo courtesy of Raytheon.
Lisa Currie knows all about the joy of giving back through volunteering. A supplier engineer with Raytheon, Currie has volunteered with the Special Olympics, Raytheon’s Stand and Deliver student-mentoring program and the American Red Cross.
But her favorite volunteer memory stems from the Science of Sports competition, which pairs Raytheon mentors with students from New England-area Boys & Girls Clubs to produce science projects and encourage their interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) learning.
Currie remembers how nervous her students were one year as they got ready to present at a science fair at Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots football team.
The judges included Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, as well as Raytheon Chairman and CEO William H. Swanson. The kids' sweaty palms and jitters quickly turned to cheers and laughter when the team’s science project won first place.
“I was thrilled to see how these students were becoming more and more interested in science,” Currie said. “It was an amazing event that I’ll never forget.”
Like Currie, Colleen Maleski understands the value of education – and the satisfaction of volunteering to help kids learn. Growing up, Maleski remembers visiting the library with her mother, a kindergarten teacher. Every summer they would take out 100 books, fostering a love of reading that continues to this day.
Raytheon’s Colleen Maleski reads an email from her electronic pen pal, a 3rd-grader in Wisconsin, about a book they’re reading together. Photo courtesy of Colleen Maleski.
That passion led Maleski, who now works in communications and public affairs for Raytheon, to volunteer as an electronic pen pal to elementary school students in a program called In2Books.
The program paired Maleski with a third-grade pen pal. They read five books per school year and exchange emails about each one, sharing opinions about the characters and the story.
The exchange encourages the student to think critically about the books and express their thoughts better in writing.
The most rewarding part, Maleski said, is witnessing how much her pen pal’s grammar, vocabulary and punctuation have improved.
“That’s why I picked a reading project,” Maleski said. “It’s so important no matter what field you go into to have reading, writing and communicating skills. I love reading and I’m hoping to share that with kids to help them love reading, too.”
Working With Veterans
Martin Sagara has always been interested in flight. He grew up near the Denver airport and remembers a boyhood filled with watching airplanes flying low in the sky.
So it’s no surprise that Sagara, a senior systems engineer at Raytheon, doesn’t mind the many volunteer hours he spends at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver. He’s volunteered there since 1994.
Raytheon’s Martin Sagara in the cockpit of the FB-111A, a Cold-War era bomber at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver. Sagara has volunteered at the museum since 1994. Photo courtesy of Martin Sagara.
Sagara wears multiple hats at the museum, including curator of the museum’s space exhibits, caretaker of the museum’s Cold War-era FB-111A bomber, lecturer and tour guide. Since the museum is located on the former Lowry Air Force Base, many of the visitors are veterans. Spending time with the veterans and hearing their stories is the biggest reward of volunteering, Sagara said.
“Veterans always seem to be ordinary people who ended up having extraordinary experiences,” Sagara said. “When you start talking with them you hear the detailed, human side of the stories you read about in the history books. It’s even more humbling when you know the depth of their stories.”
McNamee agrees that getting to know veterans is a rewarding experience. Besides his work with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, McNamee has also volunteered for the HALO for Freedom Warrior Foundation, which benefits disabled veterans.
“I never was a veteran, so being able to give something back and help those guys out, there’s a real interest there for me,” McNamee said.
Kyker, McNamee's fellow volunteer, knows the value of hard-working volunteers like Lisa Currie, Colleen Maleski, Martin Sagara and his friend Justin.
“When you get to Heaven, Justin will already be there,” Kyker joked, “Everything will be working correctly and Justin will be there in the background with a big smile on his face.”
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