Hello, my name is Tina, and I have just turned 50 years old. Where did all those years go? I have worked at the Celanese Spondon, United Kingdom facility for what seems like forever. I am an organizer. Fortunately, this trait comes in quite handy when you are the Global Citizen Network (GCN) representative for the Spondon facility and in charge of coordinating all local volunteer efforts.

At this point I should also state that when it comes to charity work or volunteering, we British live up to our reputations and are quite reserved. This is a new concept for us, and even now my friends can’t believe that Celanese allows us to take time from work to volunteer.

When my boss asked me to look after our share of the Celanese 100K Hours Challenge, and that the Spondon facility was targeting to complete more than 1,000 volunteer hours I got the feeling that this was going to be a challenge. I had no idea how much time and effort it would actually take. So let me tell you how we have done it.

Where to start? Make a list! Thank goodness for Google! I looked at charities in our local area, created a spreadsheet, and then contacted the charities to see where our people could help do the most good.

My main challenge was to find a nice variety of volunteering options that my colleagues were happy to help with and a good number of opportunities to be able to help either during work time or their own time. I have to say I was amazed at what I found, and I soon had a list. Then we briefed everyone about the opportunities. Some were enthusiastic, and some not so much; but everyone accepted that their own personal challenge was to complete 16 hours or more.

It has taken a lot of talking, organizing and spreading the word to get our volunteering efforts going. We have a photo wall at our office showing what people have been up to and a monthly site briefing where I do an update on our volunteering projects. We’ve done lots of events, including adding a volunteer evening to the agenda of the Clarifoil Business Meeting, which took place during the Celanese Global Impact Month in September, thereby combining team building with helping a charity. Everyone enjoyed the experience, and the charity was impressed with our hard work and very appreciative of our time.

When our total volunteering hours were finally reported recently, I couldn’t believe my eyes. We reached the goal! And what’s even better is that everyone at the Spondon site has done or is doing something to contribute to the cause – including being Santa on the Santa train!

So putting the numbers aside for a moment, what has changed? For a group of people who do not normally talk about volunteering, we do now. We have done lots of great stuff and made a real difference. It has opened up a new world to us that we either didn’t even know was going on, or if we did,didn’t know how to get involved. But we do now.

To all GCN members here at Celanese, I want to congratulate you for a job well done. While it should not be underestimated the effort needed to make this happen, neither should it be underestimated how good this is for employees, communities and charities.

To all the Celanese employees at our Spondon facility, I want to thank you so much! It has been a challenge but worth it; and we have far exceeded our target. We’re already planning on how to make our impact even bigger next year – and we plan to start early!