Posts Tagged ‘service sabbatical’

9 Days, 4,000 Bags, 1 Amazing Experience

Fresh from the bayou, Team Timberland’s Erica Sarcione shares her final thoughts with us about her week-long service sabbatical as part of In Good Company — a partnership of businesses committed to making a difference through hands-on volunteerism for communities in need.  Erica and her fellow service warriors spent their week working on wetlands restoration to help stabilize a fragile barrier island in south Louisiana, where the Mississippi River meets the Gulf of Mexico.

Where the River meets the Gulf. Courtesy of In Good Company.

Well, we did it!!! Lots of time, energy, effort and care was put in over the last 9 days extended to the wetlands restoration project. Many thanks to our partners, Restore the Earth Foundation and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries.

Our accomplishements:

· We packed over 1,000 Gulf Saver Bags with 22,000 pounds of composted humus.

· We moved 4,000 Gulf Saver Bags from barge to boat and from boat to beach.

· We planted a total of 15,000 native plants (Black Mangrove, Smooth Cord Grass, Marshay Grass, Black Needle Rush Grass).

· All in all, we planted approximately 5+ acres!

Our efforts will help to stabilize a fragile ecosystem, add valuable wildlife habitat, and strengthen a much-needed hurricane buffer.

It was an amazing week and I feel privileged to have been chosen for this incredible journey. I am truly a different person because of this experience, and look forward to making more of a difference in this world going forward. I’d also like to send a heartfelt thank you to all the amazing people I met along the way! I will NEVER forget you!

- Erica

In Good Company 2012

We’re proud to support In Good Company and individuals like Erica willing to give their time and energy to projects like this.  To learn more about In Good Company and the good work this year’s team did in Louisiana, visit their Facebook page.

In Good Company Takes to the Air

Part of the joy of putting in hard effort is seeing its impact — and that’s exactly what Timberland service sabbatical participants Erica Sarcione and Kerri Hewatt did.  Erica and Kerri are spending this week in Louisiana working on a wetlands restoration project with In Good Company – a partnership of businesses committed to making a difference through hands-on volunteerism for communities in need.

The In Good Company crew took time out from filling, hauling and planting 4,000 “Gulf Saver” bags (biodegradable bags filled with native plants and grasses that, when planted, help to stabilize areas of rapid erosion) to get a bird’s eye view of the area and their work. Erica captured the experience to share with us:

Up we go!

Nothing but smiles mid-flight

Bird's eye view of our job site

Erica reports, “That was an AWESOME day.  You really can’t 100% grasp the size and beauty of this place until you see it from above.  I hope by the pictures you can appreciate the importance of these wetlands and understand the need to do everything we can to save them.  There’s so much at stake here!”

With their week-long service experience winding down, we wish safe travels to the entire In Good Company team and look forward to posting final thoughts and photos from Erica and Kerri when they return.

8 Days of Gulf Coast Adventure (and Service) — In Good Company

For the past several years, Timberland has been proud to be a part of In Good Company – a partnership of businesses committed to making a difference through hands-on volunteerism for communities in need.  Each year, employee volunteers from each of the participating companies gather for a week-long service sabbatical to create a positive impact.  This year, Timberland’s representatives are Erica Sarcione, associate product manager at Timberland’s headquarters in Stratham, NH and Kerri Hewatt, assistant store manager for our Timberland Factory Outlet in Commerce, Georgia.

Erica and Kerri are spending this week in Louisiana, working side by side with volunteers from 16 other values-driven companies to help protect and restore parts of the Gulf Coast.  Over the course of the week they’ll learn more about the efforts of local nonprofit organizations, meet local activists, and experience plenty of local culture.

Erica and Kerri took a few minutes out of their jam-packed days to update us on what they’re doing and how the experience has been so far:

Everyone’s spirits are high and we’re all eager to get to work — and we have plenty of it ahead of us! We’re planting 4,000 “Gulf Saver” bags in the marsh lands this week (Gulf Savers are biodegradable burlap bags filled with native plants and grasses that are planted to jump start growth and stability in areas of rapid erosion). They lose about a football size piece of land every hour down here – and we’re here to help fix that!

- Erica

Volunteers planting Gulf Saver Bags. Photo courtesy of Restore the Earth Foundation

We are making great progress on our project here in Louisiana. On Sunday, we got a taste of what it’s like to fill the Gulf Saver bags — our team filled 1120 of them!  On Monday, we started loading the Gulf Saver bags off of a barge and onto smaller skiffs, then we offloaded them on the shore. Once all the bags were unloaded, we distributed them in intricate patterns and started planting the new grasses and trees.  Tomorrow we’ll get a chance to fly over the site and see our work from an aerial point of view.

- Kerri

A beautiful day for wetlands restoration. Photo courtesy of In Good Company

For more real-time updates and phenomenal photos of this week’s volunteers in action, follow the In Good Company page on Facebook.  We’ll also be sharing more updates from Kerri and Erica here on the Bootmakers Blog.

Reflections on Service

The following post comes from Alan Jones, one of the Timberland service sabbatical recipients who spent a week in Louisiana last month working on a large-scale restoration project.  Turns out, the project’s impact extends far beyond the wetlands where Alan and his companions worked:

Since returning from the sabbatical, friends and family have asked me to explain the experience and how it impacted me.  Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to express it in a way that does justice, and I don’t know if I ever will.

Imagine this:

Get off a plane and shake hands with 30 or so faces you’ve never met.

Spend the next 8 days and nights with these people in comfortable (but tight) quarters.

Meet locals and taste the flavor of an incredible culture deep in the Mississippi Delta and swamplands and learn that the fastest land erosion in the world is happening in your country and at the rate of 2 football fields every hour.

Learn that 40% of our fishing industry is supported by this eroding ecosystem, and that one small nonprofit has been given the green light by the government to make it better.

Spend the rest of the week working with a team to rebuild a 5-acre site that will protect another 20 acres of marshland from saltwater intrusion and land loss.

Learn that this project is the largest implementation of it’s kind, and if successful will serve as the pilot program and catalyst for future restoration efforts.

Connect to people and land in a way you did not think possible, then bid them farewell, knowing that although you knew them not for long, you knew them well.

Realize that, in addition to the thousands of trees and grasses planted in the bayou, there is something unexpected growing inside upon your return.

What did I take away from this sabbatical?

to plant.

to grow.

to laugh.

to live.

Sustainable Impact, Cajun Style

Timberland’s service sabbatical recipients Alan Jones and Heather Jackson shared the following from their week-long environmental restoration project in Louisiana.  Our thanks to Alan and Heather for taking time out from their daily lives and duties to be a part of this powerful team and its inspiring results!

In Good Company 2011, courtesy of Anne Hamersky

Wow. We did it! Nearly 5 acres of dissolving beach transformed into a landscape of Gulf Saver Bags sprouting mangroves and spartina grass!

That’s five acres of restored wetlands that have the chance to spread and expand, reducing coastal erosion, mitigating hurricane storm surges, creating wildlife habitat, stabilizing shipping routes, and enhancing the economic and cultural life of Deep Delta Louisiana. Collectively, we have impacted the Gulf Coast in a powerfully positive way.

THANK YOU for your immense effort and thanks to all your respective companies for sponsoring you on this community service experience.   May you all find inspiration in the incredible week we shared and continue to generate ripples of positive change in your communities.

- Anne Hamersky and the In Good Company planning team

Even Gulf Savers Need a Day of Rest

As promised, here is a video of Timberland’s service sabbatical participants Alan Jones and Heather Jackson, along with the rest of their In Good Company comrades, during a well-deserved day off from wetlands restoration.  Alan’s commentary:

Last night was a rare treat as we all hosted a Cajun Zydeco band and danced till it hurt! I will miss these people at week’s end … what a group.

4,000 Bags of Gulf-Saving Goodness

Our Timberland service sabbatical recipients, Alan and Heather, are several days in to their week-long Louisiana bayou immersion.  The two have been hard at work, but took time out to share the following update and incredible photos with us:

It has been a blast living and working with the 27 teammates of the 4th annual In Good Company partnership event.

We are spending much of this week working with the Restore the Earth Foundation, an incredible nonprofit focused on environmental conservation, protection and restoration.  One of Restore the Earth’s initiatives is called Gulf Saver Solutions, and it entails “deploying” Gulf Saver bags — full of native marsh grasses and oil-eating micro-organisms which help to protect and restore natural wetland ecosystems and habitats.  This week, our team has been working on filling, moving, staking and planting 4,000 Gulf Saver bags.  Ours is the largest deployment to date! Read the rest of this entry »

Back in the Bayou

This marks Timberland’s fourth year offering an Earthkeeper service sabbatical through In Good Company – a partnership of businesses joining together to make a difference through hands-on action. This year, we’ve chosen two well-deserving Timberland employees to join the In Good Company team in Venice, Louisiana (one hour south of New Orleans) for a week-long community service experience.

Alan Jones is an account executive for Timberland PRO, based in Texas.  He participated in his first Timberland service event in New Orleans in 2006, following Hurricane Katrina — an experience that, he says, “set in motion my dedication to service and to this company.”

Heather Jackson is an order processing clerk at our distribution center in Danville, KY.  Heather explains how she came to apply for the In Good Company sabbatical:

When I read about this opportunity, I went home that afternoon and talked with my seven-year-old son about why I want to do this and asked him what he thought. He said, “Mom, I want you to go. Go help the ocean.”  I want to share my experience with my son and inspire him to make a difference.

Alan and Heather, along with the rest of their In Good Company companions, will spend this week serving with various nonprofit organizations that are working to clean up and regenerate areas of the bayou impacted by the 2010 oil spill. (Fun fact: two of the three previous In Good Company sabbatical experiences have also taken volunteers to Louisiana; you can read about all of the previous In Good Company sabbaticals here.)

The word for the week is “local” – Heather and Alan will spend their time learning about local activists, experiencing local culture and making local impact. And, they’ll be sharing their experiences with us here on the Bootmakers Blog – stay tuned for their updates.

Making a Difference, In Good Company

Last month, Timberland employees Courtney Baumann and Sandy McDowell joined a team of other corporate volunteers for a week-long community service sabbatical in West Oakland, CA.  We’re pleased to be able to share Courtney’s final reflections and photos from the experience below.

I can’t express how grateful I am to Timberland for choosing me to attend the sabbatical in West Oakland. I was truly moved by the experience. Before I left, I was asked what I hoped to accomplish by going on the “trip,” and I stated that I wanted to add value to humanity, restore my perception of society and overcome challenges. I most definitely accomplished all of these things. I came back with a renewed sense of self and proud of the people I had met and the things we managed to achieve.

Courtney and Sandy

I knew it was going to be a good week, when Thao, one of the Clif Bar peeps who coordinated this whole event, picked me up at the airport. Of course nothing goes to plan, and everyone’s flights ran late — and I mean everyone! But I called when I landed and she burst out laughing, stating that she would be around in a bit, and that she had a funny hat on, which would make it easy to recognize. That cheerful attitude followed us around all week. Although many things did not go to plan, there was never a moment when it seemed Temra or Jennifer (Clif Bar) gave up or got discouraged. They just kept trucking along, making arrangements, and making it work. From rainy weather dampening our mural walk and halting our bike ride, loss of electric power in half of West Oakland, to rearranging our duties to make sure that every day, every project was adequately covered. I was lucky enough to see the City Slickers chicken coop project through from start to finish, and that meant a lot to me. Starting from scratch and then seeing the joy on a little boy’s face as he gets to see a chicken for the first time, just made it all worthwhile.

Chickens!

The entire week was so inspiring. There are so many people out there willing to make a difference, and many people that need our help. Since we’ve returned, City Slickers has received a $4 million grant to buy a parcel of land to aid in more urban farming. This shows how much of an impact a few organizations can have on a community.

Urban farming at its best

Throughout the week, all of the companies participating shared what they are doing to make it better for their employees and the planet. Timberland is not the only one who takes care of their employees and it means that we really might be able to change the world! Attendees included: Clif Bar (the spearhead of In Good Company), Annie’s, Eileen Fisher, States Logistics, Kaia Foods, QBP, Stonyfield Farm, New Belgium Breweries, Seventh Generation, Effects Marketing, and of course, Timberland. Support these companies wherever you can, because they are paving the way for a new way of thinking about the corporate world. They are all producing quality products with the environment in mind. We are part of a community of companies that care about social, environmental, and food justice.

A few final thoughts and observations: I’ve discovered that there are all sorts of foods that I haven’t tried yet, and will probably like.  I never knew I could go on that little sleep and still be happy to wake up in the morning. And my Timberland waterproof jacket and boots really are waterproof. They came in handy more than I ever realized they would.

Courtney




West Coast Update

Our daily update from Timberland Earthkeeper Sandy McDowell, halfway through her week of community service and revitalization in West Oakland, CA:

Yesterday we installed solar panels on two houses in West Oakland.  The company we worked with is called Grid Alternatives: they supply the solar panels and we install, with their help.  I talked to a neighbor who said it reduced his electric bill to 8 dollars a month!  We will finish that job today, and tomorrow we are building raised garden beds in West Oakland for City Slicker Farms.

I have met some awesome people in the neighborhood who are passionate for a better life.  Can’t wait to share all of those stories.

Sandy