2012 Volunteer Excellence Award winners

Story of service • Worldwide • April 2013

IBM has a deep and long standing commitment to the communities in which we live and work. The Volunteer Excellence Award annually recognizes a select number of IBM employees who embody this commitment by demonstrating exemplary volunteer service in projects that apply IBM’s Smarter Planet strategies to community service.

Congratulations to the 13 Volunteer Excellence Award winners for 2012, approved for this top recognition by IBM Chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty. Seven teams and six individuals from around the globe, integrated their professional skills, IBM business strategies, IBM programs and volunteer resources to make a difference in their communities. Their work is inspiring and offers models for success in similar volunteer engagements elsewhere.

Each award-winning employee or team will be featured in a detailed story of service in the coming months, but you can read a brief overview of each award winner below.

Argentina – Project Management skills help build bilingual literacy tools

Adrian Ciaffone, an IBM volunteer in Buenos Aires, Argentina was instrumental in the development of teaching materials for bilingual (Wichí aboriginal and Spanish) literacy for children and young people in Wichí communities in Salta province, one of the stronger marketplaces for IBM Argentina’s geo expansion strategy. To date, 20 schools have incorporated the teaching model and 100 teachers have been training on the “pair teaching” method.

China – Improving education in rural China

Hainan Yin, a warranty program manager for IBM China, led the team of eight IBM colleagues in a project designed to improve education in rural areas of the country. What started as a used-book drive by IBM employees with the Siyuan Commonweal Organization has grown into a collaboration with Shanghai Jiao Tong University to deliver a series of educational workshops to 400 children in the Gansu province of China, and a cloud platform solution to help track book donations and manage volunteer activity.

Colombia – Environmental projects support Bogotá schools

Jose Misael Ceballos and a team of IBM volunteers from Bogotá, Colombia worked with two schools serving low income families to implement environmental projects. After soliciting ideas on recycling from students with the Mission: Innovation Activity Kit, they worked with each school to remodel their recycling collection center, design and build an environmental path, build a greenhouse, and implement a communication campaign to involve the entire education community.

Costa Rica – Seeds of Knowledge promotes conservation and reforestation

Working with Fundación Arboles Mágicos, a large group of 140 IBM volunteers in Costa Rica adopted the Seeds of Knowledge project to promote the conservation and importance of trees. The first phase of the project was environmental awareness and education. IBM volunteers used dynamic presentations and exercises to reach a total of 765 children in 2012. The second phase focused on reforestation. The volunteers connected two ecosystems by planting carefully selected species of trees, creating a biological corridor to help protect a river conservation area. IBMers planted a total of 3,650 trees in 2012, thereby protecting the area for agricultural activities and providing a cleaner source of drinking water.

Germany – Building a foundation for education from the ground up

Fred-Eric Essam, a senior solution sales professional for IBM Germany whose native country is Cameroon on the West Coast of Africa, founded the not-for-profit organization, ident.africa, to balance the education deficit on the continent. Based on a research project and with the help of architectural experts from Germany and Cameroon, a preschool of traditional design, meeting climate induced aspects and using building materials from the surrounding area, will be built in the village of Boboyo in the north of Cameroon in 2013. This promises an economical use of resources and thereby conforms to the objective of sustainability, while providing early education to 120 children in a country where education is still a privilege. An additional project is underway to set up solar panels in a multi-purpose hall and the new preschool in Cameroon.

Hong Kong – Bridging the digital divide across generations in Hong Kong

In partnership with the YMCA of Hong Kong and U-fire Networks, Cynthia Ky Wong led a team of six IBM volunteers to help bridge the digital divide for underprivileged children and reduce cross-generational poverty through a three-generation mentorship program held in one of the poorest districts in Hong Kong. With the IBMers’ project management knowledge, the teams were able to communicate virtually, systematically plan the ideas, and test them in a day of volunteer service, thus allowing the children to experience the joy of helping other people in need in their communities.

Indonesia – Breaking the sound of silence

Rina Jayani Rahmadi, a volunteer from IBM Indonesia, has been actively involved in helping children with hearing impairments since her son was diagnosed as being deaf in one ear, with only slight hearing in the other. Determined to find ways to help her son and other hearing impaired children learn to speak and not rely solely on sign language to communicate, she founded Indonesia Hear Foundation. Through the foundation, Rina arranges workshops for parents on issues related to raising hearing impaired children, and collects and distributes hearing aids to children in needy families. She has also opened a therapy center with the goal to not only help children learn to speak, but also to read, write and use a computer, all skills needed to help them survive in a mainstream school and society.

Japan – IT support helps disaster recovery efforts

When Japan was hit with the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, the Otsuchi area received devastating damage from these natural disasters. Masayoshi Teraguchi and five other IBM volunteers supported a two-part project, working closely with the Otsuchi Social Welfare Council. The first part of the project involved physical labor, including removing rubble and preparing temporary housing for the residents. The second part involved IT support to create a database of 2,000 families suffering from the disaster to replace the manual process of collecting and keeping paper files of life and health information for those who stayed at shelters and temporary houses.

Spain – Project Coach motivates at-risk young people

Pilar Linan Vallecillos is the IBM team lead for a group of 77 volunteers from IBM Spain who are committed to helping young people with a background of academic failure become motivated to continue their education and develop the work readiness skills they need to be successful in the business world. Through Project Coach, IBM volunteers in Madrid and Barcelona serve as coaches giving the students their first contact with the professional world, hoping to motivate the young people to continue studying so they will be better prepared for successful futures.

United Kingdom – Using IBM skills for educators and students

Colleen Haffey, an IBM software client architect in the United Kingdom, has planned and delivered nine “IT Insights Workshops” targeted at secondary school teachers across the UK. At the heart of the workshops is the Smarter Planet agenda, and at each IT Insights Workshop the ethos behind Smarter Planet has been conveyed to teachers and real life case studies have been discussed. This has enabled over 100 teachers to take this knowledge back to their pupils and enlighten them about how the world can work better by utilizing Smarter Planet concepts and ideas. Colleen developed the workshops following the publication of a number of recent reports identifying the lack of knowledge of IT teachers as a barrier to effective teaching of these subjects.

United States – Pro-bono legal work maximized by IBM attorney in New York

Theresa Mohan, a senior regional counsel for IBM in New York, led the initiative to create an infrastructure to encourage legal pro bono volunteerism across the IBM legal function, culminating in a partnership with an international disaster relief organization. With her insight into the chaos of disaster, Theresa was able to use her legal training and professional experience when super storm Sandy ravaged the eastern United States in late 2012 to figure out what assistance was available for the affected residents. She initiated an informal legal clinic in the early days of the hurricane disaster, which grew from a make-shift legal tent to five locations with volunteers from IBM, law firms, local bar association, law schools and the surrounding area all offering guidance to the community.

United States – Helping Girl Scouts work smarter in Oklahoma

A team of four IBM volunteers from Tulsa, Oklahoma (Monique Francois, Patricia Gough, Tamika Paredes and Gary Provine) have a strong history of volunteerism with the Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma (GSEOK) Council. From providing leadership on the Board of Directors and Finance Committee, and making improvements to camp facilities, to helping GSEOK address challenges in making programming and training available to both leaders and girls despite rural and economical limitations and limited technology access, the team’s work has resulted in measurable impact that continues to grow. They have also helped with the creation of a STEM patch program, utilizing IBM Activity Kits to provide challenges that will spark the girls’ interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math related professions.

United States – Taking eWeek to a new level in Texas

Rick McMaster, an engineer and project manager from Austin, Texas began his outreach effort 16 years ago when he volunteered to become the IBM Austin Coordinator for eWeek. He has grown this K-12 technical outreach program from three local firms – IBM, 3M and Texas Instruments – to more than 60 partners today, including companies, universities, professional societies and community. The effort, now known as Central Texas Discover Engineering (CTDE), engages more than 11,000 students annually through hundreds of classroom visits by professional volunteers from across Central Texas.

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