Superstars of selflessness
In kitchens and in cyberspace, Raytheon employees volunteer for veterans, STEM students
The formerly homeless veterans of Victory Apartments in Omaha, Nebraska, weren't getting out much – and that was a problem. The staff knew bringing them together might help them adjust to their new lives, but few were inclined to come out into the common areas. They needed a reason.
All it took, it turns out, was a box of Hamburger Helper, some ground turkey, a side of broccoli and someone to show them how to throw it all together for a quick and easy meal. A Raytheon employee led the Cooking 101 class, just one example of the volunteer work the company is celebrating in recognition of National Volunteer Week.
“If you’ve been on the street for 32 years, you wouldn’t know how a microwave works today, or how to put together a budget. Some of them are on food stamps, and some of them still go to a shelter to eat,” said Debra Veldhuis, a Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services employee who coordinates volunteer efforts at the Victory Apartments and has a place on its advisory board. “The goal is to get them out there – get them on their feet, get them to re-enter society, get a job and get their own place they can call home.”
Raytheon is honoring Veldhuis and four other employees as "Superstar Volunteers" for their service to military veterans and education in science, technology, engineering and math – the company's major volunteering priorities. Employees around the country will mark National Volunteer Week by working at events related to those areas, and nearly 400 are set to receive the President's Volunteer Service Award from the White House. The award is given to those who recorded at least 100 volunteer hours in 2014. Among the Raytheon employees set to receive the award, six logged more than 1,000 volunteer hours last year.
The other Superstar Volunteers:
Mike Bouey: The Raytheon Missile Systems engineer served as a paralegal in the U.S. Army, including a year-long deployment to Iraq in 2004. His volunteer work has included tutoring high school students in math and speaking to groups of soldiers who have recently returned from deployment. Bouey also serves on the board of directors for Support Education & Employment for Veterans. The Arizona-based group, also called S.E.E.4 Vets, helps veterans in community college find employment and provides funding for those who do not qualify for the GI Bill, or whose GI Bill benefits are inadequate to support a family.
“It’s really all about just trying to get veterans back in the workforce and getting them back into serving society in the fastest way possible,” said Bouey, who continues to serve as a first lieutenant in the Arizona National Guard.
Paul Krier: The Raytheon cybersecurity expert is a former U.S. Air Force captain who volunteers in support of two teams in the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. He is an advisor and company liaison to the teams from Southern Methodist University and the University of North Texas, two of the approximately 180 teams that square off in the Raytheon-sponsored cybersecurity competition every year.
“Our world is so connected and so online, that its security is paramount to our daily lives. Not just from an industry or an enterprise, but from an individual perspective,” Krier said. “More people are becoming aware of how fragile the online presence is, and we’re training the next generation of professionals who can take on that challenge and make sure we remain safe online.”
Kimberly Martinez: The Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems engineer and U.S. Navy lieutenant commander has volunteered at USO dinners through her role in RAYVETS, Raytheon’s employee organization for military veterans and supporters. She has also served as a high school math tutor and worked on fundraising for about $17,000 in scholarships, including a STEM scholarship for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in San Diego.
“Volunteering is so rewarding. As a female veteran, I never personally had a mentor to guide me through my career path, and tutoring in the Stand and Deliver program is a way for me to give back and share my experiences as a professional engineer and as a military officer," she said. "Scholarships are another way of giving back to students who have a passion to succeed but need financial assistance to accomplish their educational goals. The LGBT students who apply for the STEM scholarship are the cream of the crop. They're very talented individuals, and they're driven to succeed."
Ric Roberts: The Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems engineer is a longtime coach and fundraiser for high-school robotics clubs. His current role: Organizing a Los Angeles-area regional robotics competition for more than 60 schools. Roberts said he is especially proud to help traditionally underrepresented groups such as girls and low-income students explore careers in technology.
“There’s tremendous diversity in this whole thing,” he said. “It’s great to see kids who didn’t believe they could do science and math, who didn’t understand how they could apply science and math, be able to do that.”