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Celebration of Service

IBM’s top volunteers help change the world

6th annual On Demand Community Excellence Award winners

IBM employees contribute more hours of service than any other group of employees in the world. The IBM On Demand Community Excellence Award recognizes some of the top volunteers who are truly the face of a smarter planet. IBM’s On Demand Community is a global community that combines the skills of over 165,000 IBM employee and retiree volunteers with the power of access to innovative IBM technology, training, and support.

This year's award winners demonstrate what people can accomplish by using their skills and the special volunteer resources available on the On Demand Community web site. They exemplify the IBM values of dedication, innovation and trust through their volunteer efforts and utilization of On Demand Community tools.

Congratulations to the seven 2011 winners who were selected from dozens of top candidates by IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs regional managers. The nominations were approved by IBM Chairman and CEO, Sam Palmisano.

Each award-winning employee or team will be featured in a detailed story of service in the coming months.

Abhishek Singh - India

Close to 70% of the population in India live in rural and semi-urban areas, and the children do not have access to basic education. Abhishek Singh, an IBM volunteer in Bangalore, is aware that there is a vast potential of talent and untapped creative and intellectual energy in rural India and is concerned that if this generation is not empowered, the nation as a whole cannot flourish and develop.

Singh is doing something about this problem by working with a local NGO, Aashayein Foundation, and some government-run schools, to develop grass roots programs designed to help provide youth with quality education. In one project, Singh organized learning sessions every Saturday at the Dairy Colony School providing activities to help develop the children’s interpersonal skills and raise awareness of various options available to them. Because 95% of the schools in India do not have access to the Internet, Singh had the additional challenge of adapting solutions to meet the Indian conditions.

Team Japan

The IBM Pro Bono Project, the first of its kind in Japan, introduces professional employees interested in volunteer work to organizations seeking assistance.

To date, IBM volunteers have helped Shibuya University Network provide citizens with various lifelong education programs, in concert with universities and companies in the Shibuya district. They have supported Sodateage Net and its NEET (young people Not in Education, Employment and Training) program to enable stay-at-home children to become self-reliant by finding and maintaining jobs. The IBM Japan team also helps TRYWARP energize the community in the Nishi Chiba district by providing computer training for university freshmen and elderly citizens. All three of these organizations have tackled with societal problems in Japan, but they have been lacking in strategic managerial resources, including skilled people and funding.

The IBM Japan team includes: Yuya Arashima, Yuko Ishizuka, Kenji Kuba, Takako Kuhara, Yoko Mori, Keiji Takeda, Hocktoh Tiong, and Sayaka Watanabe.

Team Peru

Three IBM Peru volunteers – Alicia Huby, Brenda Cavero and Giancarlo Vial Del Pozo - have been dedicating whole weekends over the past two years to help children affected by family and social violence, malnutrition and other adverse circumstances. They are part of project Minka Peru, developed by the NGO, Minkando, whose mission is to complement the standard education frameworks offered by school and family. The volunteers travel to communities where the children live, outside the capital city of Lima, and teach them about self-esteem, values and teamwork through workshops and games, opening up new ways of life to them.

After several of these weekend visits, Alicia Huby decided she wanted to do more and now serves on the board of Minkado. In this role, she prepares the activities for the weekends and organizes the volunteers, with the help of On Demand Community solutions. “Help kids go green” has been used to show students how they can participate in creating a more sustainable earth and the “Introduction to not-for-profits for volunteers” solution is used to train volunteers in the organization.

Team Spain

With increasing levels of migration across the European Union, Spain has seen a large influx of immigrants, and many of these people lack the skills needed to find good-paying, permanent jobs. To help with this economic and social problem, a team of 65 IBM volunteers, under the leadership of Gema Colino and Flora Egea, joined forces with Centro Pueblos Unidos, a not-for-profit foundation in Madrid that promotes the integration of people at risk of social exclusion mainly through training. More than 90% of the service users are immigrants.

The IBM team assumed responsibility for a series of workshops that focus on improving the employability of job seekers, with the belief that information and communication technologies have a role to play in promoting integration and cultural diversity. The workshops provide technical skills and a range of personal and professional skills support, including interview techniques, curriculum vitae preparation and negotiation skills.

Derya Sel – Turkey

Derya Sel, a Senior Consultant in Istanbul, Turkey, started volunteering 10 years ago while still in college. Since she joined IBM in 2007, she combined her volunteering activities with IBM’s On Demand Community solutions and developed new projects with the Toplum Gönüllüleri Vakfi (Community Volunteers Foundation), known as TOG. To do this, she established TOG Alumni, a new division of the NGO, made up of former university student volunteers who have now graduated and want to continue their volunteer work. TOG Alumni has grown rapidly and now has over 100 active volunteers.

Sel developed and led “Ants of Cultural Heritage,” which helps secondary school students from disadvantaged districts of Istanbul learn about the cultural heritage in their surroundings. Using the “Share project management skills” solution, she organized a literacy program pairing adult volunteers one-on-one with young children to promote reading. She has also shared some IBM best practices with TOG Alumni members, leading two important projects about waste prevention and recycling in the office, as well as a wheelchair donation program. TOG Alumni volunteers are now running these project in their own companies.

Team Minnesota – United States

Several years ago, Wade Fode, a software developer in Rochester, Minnesota, became frustrated with the lack of continuous and meaningful volunteer opportunities at his local elementary school. Working with a group of other IBM volunteers, Fode and his team met with teachers and school leaders and decided to research options to use their skills and IBM resources to enhance learning for the young students in Byron Elementary School.

The team leveraged On Demand Community resources and TryScience to develop a unique curriculum of hands-on science experiments for third-graders that aligned with state education standards. More than 40 volunteers from three companies, including Mayo Clinic, are actively engaged in delivering hands-on science activities throughout the school year. Three of these TryScience Extravaganza activities are now part of the global resources available to all on the IBM Centennial site.

Team members include Mike Denney, Perry Dykes, Rachel Eagle, Brian Eckre, Nancy Heinz, Amy Hoerle, Bob Kanzelman, Andy Koch, Lonny Lambrecht, David Lund, Dave Luther, Roger Mittelstadt, Aspen Payton, Wendy Siercks, Scott Strand, Haitao Sun, Beth Taylor, Bill Taylor, Brian Vanderpool, David Watson and Ron Zacher.

Sarena Meyer – United States – New York

Sarena Meyer, a Business Transformation executive consultant in Westchester County, New York, is passionate about helping young women understand that science, technology, engineering and math activities are not only fun, but can be the inspiration to pursue exciting and successful careers in these fields. For the past seven years, she has been deeply involved with the one-week summer technology camp for middle-school girls, hosted at T.J. Watson Research Lab in Yorktown Heights. The four-day hands-on learning experience, called Girls Go TechKnow, is for girls who are unlikely to have access to female role models or opportunities for exploring science and engineering.

Meyer helped create and teach the curriculum for the camp which includes learning chemistry by creating liquid nitrogen ice cream and understanding sensors and software by building LEGO robots, among other activities. Since 2004, more than 200 students have attended a Girls Go TechKnow camp and several hundred IBM employees have volunteered at the New York camps.

IBM is marking its centennial year with a worldwide celebration of volunteer service. Throughout 2011, IBM invites everyone to join our global community of employees, retirees, families and friends as we support the communities where we work, live and learn together.