Though unemployment remains high around the Puget Sound, Boeing employees recently increased their charitable giving in Snohomish County.
On Dec. 13, representatives from Boeing’s Employees Community Fund presented United Way of Snohomish County with a $1.8 million contribution for 2012.
Robley Evans, president of the Employees Community Fund, explained that for more than 60 years, the fund has supported the most vulnerable people in the Puget Sound area. He feels that United Way has a sense of how funds should be spent in the community.
“We especially know that United Way of Snohomish County will be good stewards of the money we give,” said Evans.
He presented a symbolic $1.8 million check, which represents an increase of $175,000 over last year’s donation, to United Way of Snohomish County’s president and CEO, Dennis Smith.
“This is a big check. And this is really going to make a difference in our community,” Smith said. Acknowledging that the nation is still in a period of economic downturn, he observed that in 2010, “Nearly 70,000 people in the county — close to the populations of Edmonds and Lynnwood combined — were living at or below the poverty level. … People here are suffering.”
The Employees Community Fund donation, which will be spread out over a 12-month period, will be used to fund 102 United Way programs through its Local Community Fund. The funding presentation was held at one of United Way’s grantees, Bridgeways, which has a production shop located not far from Boeing’s Everett facility. The 30-year-old nonprofit organization, which serves adults with mental illness, offers housing, clinical and employment services. The nonprofit, which has built a close professional association with Boeing, provides 50 manufacturing and assembly jobs, mainly for aerospace companies.
“We look at it as a stepping stone for people to grow and better their lives,” said Ken Piel, director of business development at Bridgeways. “The work that we do here is paid for by our customers, but it doesn’t allow us to grow.” The nonprofit relies on grants, including $211,243 provided by United Way in the past four years, to keep up with rapidly evolving technology, purchase new equipment and hire more workers.
One of Bridgeway’s latest upgrades is a new QA (quality assurance) system with state-of-the-art equipment.
“A company like ours can’t afford to stand still,” said Piel. “When you’re at 30,000 feet in an aircraft, you can rest assured the work was quality.”