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Feature Story

Volunteering to change the world

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Photo by Jessica Oyanagi

Nearly 800 Puget Sound area employees volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and other nonprofits in support of Boeing's first Global Day of Service July 17.

Finance people typically wield sharp pencils, not pick axes, but on July 17 Katie Semmer of the Finance organization in Boeing Commercial Airplanes had her hands on shovels, axes and a jack hammer as she and other Boeing volunteers helped dig a 35-foot drainage ditch for a new Habitat for Humanity home in Washington’s Puget Sound region.

“Our site lead was impressed that by the end of the afternoon (we) had completed digging the ditch,” Semmer said. “He joked that at the pace we started, he wasn’t sure if we were going to dig all the way to China or pass out in 20 minutes. We didn’t reach China, but we got the job done.”

Semmer was one of more than 1,500 Boeing volunteers worldwide who spent July 17 making a difference in communities around the world.

"Employees from across the enterprise came together on the same day for a common purpose, and they touched the lives of people around the world..."

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Photo by Kevin Kelly

Boeing employees in Korea volunteered to serve meals to the homeless at the Rise Again center in Seoul.


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Bob Schneider photo

Nearly 500 Boeing volunteers from across Southern California worked on wetlands conservation.


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Photo by Richard Rau

In St. Louis, Boeing volunteers worked with Rebuilding Together to repair the houses of poor, disabled and elderly homeowners.


Just east of China – in Korea and Japan – her fellow Boeing volunteers were at work on other important service projects.

In Japan, employees chose to work at Tokyo Shure, a Global Corporate Citizenship (GCC) grantee that provides alternative schooling to Japanese children and young people. The volunteers discussed issues and concerns with students, took roles in skits, and decorated the school with hand-made signs and origami to help with an anniversary fund-raiser, designed to raise awareness and support for the organization. 

Most of the action in Korea took place in a kitchen. Fifteen volunteers – including employees and their families and members of the BDS leadership team – volunteered at a homeless shelter in Seoul, preparing and serving meals to about 170 people at the Rise Again Center, and then cleaning up afterward. 

In Puget Sound some of the 800 volunteers joined Semmer in building 12 homes while others cleaned and painted schools and childcare centers.  In Southern California, more than 450 were joined by students from the LA Conservation Corps charter high school to remove vegetation and trash to help maintain local wetlands. In St. Louis, about 230 volunteers worked with more than a dozen students from a local Constructions Career high school to repair houses for poor, disabled and elderly homeowners. And in the Australian city of Brisbane, Boeing employees and community members worked at Balmoral State High School, where they “revamped the school gardens and picked up rubbish, general tidying and cleaning,” according to Boeing’s James Baker, who led the event.

The first Boeing Global Day of Service was scheduled to coincide with the July 15 anniversary of the company’s founding in 1916. Its success exceeded expectations.

"Employees from across the enterprise came together on the same day for a common purpose, and they touched the lives of people around the world,” said Patrice Mingo, director of strategic employee programs in Boeing Global Corporate Citizenship. “The volunteers’ energy and enthusiasm is going to carry this program throughout the year, and it certainly helped launch the day of service in a powerful way.”