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On a mild summer day, 100 employees from The Dow Chemical Company and four Alternatives For Girls Peer Educators (PEs) are outside of the H Hotel in Midland Michigan, packing backpacks and hygiene kits and assembling bicycles and picnic tables. A few of the PEs grab a packing list for the backpacks and start looking for the items that belong in the bag. Like a scavenger hunt, they check things off the list, only to look up again and search for the next item. Meanwhile, another PE works with Dow employees to assemble a beautiful, colorful bicycle. “I only did one bike, but it felt kind of intense. It was like a race because everyone was working on the bikes all at once. It was fun!” Deana, one of the AFG PEs who attended the event, remembers.
The event, held on July 15 by The Dow Chemical Company, was called Power to Influence and is a training opportunity for its technicians. “The event provides the technicians an opportunity to receive specialized training that will aid in their own development and set the stage to develop others by leveraging their learnings from the program,” Sarah McManus, Operations Learning and Talent Development Administrator at The Dow Chemical Company, explains. Because The Dow Chemical Company strongly believes in giving back to the community, the event also incorporates a volunteer activity.
For this Power to Influence event, the volunteer activity was assembling donations for Alternatives For Girls. In addition, Dow also invited girls from AFG to attend the event to learn about what they do, help during the volunteer activity, and even stay overnight at the hotel! The Peer Educators who attended were chauffeured to Midland by a private taxi service (courtesy of Dow!) and had a welcome basket when they arrived to their hotel room! “It made me feel really special!” Da’shea, another AFG PE who attended, shared.
During the event, the group put together 10 bicycles, 100 backpacks filled with school supplies, 90 hygiene kits, and 4 picnic tables, in less than an hour! “It was great to see all of the hard work come together. Everyone moved really quickly and wanted to help!” Sarah shared. “The whole experience was fun! It felt like they were really trying to help us out,” Da’shea shared.
The Dow Chemical Company reached out to other companies in the area to support Alternatives For Girls, as well. “Ray’s Bike Shop of Midland gave me a wonderful discount on the Electra bicycles that were assembled. They also sent a store representative to the event to help with the process and answer any questions,” Sarah explained. In addition, Corrigan Moving Systems, a moving company also located in the Midland area, transported all of the items from Midland to Detroit for free!
For Sarah, the highlight of the day was sharing the experience with the PEs. “It was a pleasure to meet the AFG girls. Everyone was glad that the AFG group could join us,” Sarah shared. The PEs who attended had a blast during the event, and after. “My favorite part of the trip was meeting new people and hearing their stories. I learned about someone who was from Texas that was homeless when she was 13,” Danea shared. The girls also enjoyed swimming in the hotel pool afterwards and receiving their own backpack filled with goodies before they drove back to AFG. “It was definitely a great experience. I’m very grateful that I got to experience it,” Danea reflects, smiling from ear to ear.