SkillsUSA SkillsUSA Champions Spring 2010 : Page 12

“The moment that really did it,” she remembers, “was when the Massachusetts delegation put on a lunch for us. The officers did a ‘What is SkillsUSA and Why Does It Matter?’ presentation, and we still remember the kids and exactly what they said. They all had the same enthusiasm and passion, and they just embraced those skills that we hold dear at Air Products. “And all of a sudden, we got it. We knew that this was the organization that we really needed to fully embrace and be involved with at all levels.” “We don’t have much in terms of operations in Massachusetts,” laughs Mike DeCastro, director of North American gases for Air Products’ global operations division. “But we were so impressed by the delegation that we wanted to do more.” ! DEEPER COMMITMENT The experience would come to mirror Air Products’ newfound approach to a SkillsUSA partnership. Yes, the company would make the large-scale, nationally recognized contributions to SkillsUSA projects such as the Professional Develop-ment Program and the alumni association. But it would also concentrate its efforts in more subtle ways, through local chapters across the country. And those are the stories Air Products is most proud of. “In Pennsylvania,” Gostley-Hackett explains, “we sponsor several local competitions and serve as judges. And every June, we host a send-off breakfast for all the students and advisors heading to Kansas City. It’s sort of a rally and a ‘goodbye and good luck from your friends at Air Products.’ -AKINGITPERSONALFOREVERYONE K NE OF THE REASONS THAT !IR 0RODUCTS´ INNOVATIVE PARTNERSHIP WITH 3KILLS53! IS SO SUCCESSFUL IS THAT EMPLOY&#0d; EES ARE GIVEN A PERSONAL STAKE IN THE RELATIONSHIP&#0e; &OR EXAMPLE&#1a; „!IR 0RODUCTS HAS DEVELOPED THE ±3KILLS53! 0LAYBOOK² TO HELP EMPLOY&#0d; EES BECOME SUCCESSFUL AMBASSADORS TO LOCAL 3KILLS53! CHAPTERS&#0e; 4HE BOOK IS PACKED WITH INFORMATION ABOUT 3KILLS53!&#0c; POTENTIAL AREAS OF CHAPTER NEED AND MORE&#0c; HELPING TO ENSURE A MUTUALLY BENE½CIAL PARTNERSHIP&#0e; „%MPLOYEES WHO VISIT 3KILLS53!´S NA&#0d; CONFERENCE AND THAT NUMBER TIONAL GROWS EACH YEAR DON´T JUST COME TO OBSERVE&#0e; 4HEY COME TO VOLUNTEER&#0c; JUDGING CONTESTS AND OFFERING THEIR OWN TECHNICAL EXPERTISE WHERE NEEDED&#0e; 0RODUCTS MAKES 3KILLS53! A PART OF OTHER CHARITABLE INITIATIVES&#0e; !S PART „!IR OF THE COMPANY´S 5NITED 7AY CAMPAIGN&#0c; 3KILLS53! CULINARY STUDENTS IN THE !LLENTOWN&#0c; 0A&#0e;&#0c; AREA SELL HOMEMADE DESSERTS TO !IR 0RODUCTS STAFF IN THE WORLD HEADQUARTERS´ CAFETERIA&#0e; 7HILE FUNDS ARE RAISED FOR THE 5NITED 7AY&#0c; AWARENESS IS RAISED ABOUT WHAT THE 3KILLS53! CHAPTER IS UP TO&#0e; ±7E´RE ALL PROUD AND HONORED TO BE A PART OF THE !IR 0RODUCTS TEAM&#0c;² SAYS ,AURIE 'OSTLEY&#0d;(ACKETT PICTUREDWITH-ASSACHUSETTSMEMBERS &#0c; ±AND SO HERE´S THIS NATIONAL ORGANIZATION THAT HOLDS HIGH THE SAME VALUES WE DO&#0e; 2EALLY&#0c; ) GET MISTY ABOUT IT&#0e;² U “There’s a chapter in Texas at Thurgood Marshall High School [in Missouri City],” she continues, “where not all the students had the red blazer. We provided funding so that every student could compete and look professional in their official attire.” Gostley-Hackett and DeCastro also “returned the favor” to SkillsUSA Massa-chusetts, leading workshops and speaking to the students during the state’s 2009 fall leadership conference. But Gostley-Hackett’s favorite story involves a particularly impressive display of corporate commitment. After all, how often does a business partner actually help start a SkillsUSA chapter? “The college chapters are so important to us,” she says. “Lee College in Texas is a great example. We have a lot of employees living in the area, so we helped them start a SkillsUSA chapter. We worked with the Texas postsecondary state director, set up an information table in the student union and invited faculty members to go with us to the state conference. It was a great beginning to a successful partnership. “The big thing for us, and I hope you’re getting this,” she reflects with unmistak-able sincerity and enthusiasm, “is that it’s not about money. We’re blessed that we’re able to support financially, but just as important as our big cardboard check is our time. Every hour we spend with an advisor, with a student judging a compe-tition, walking through a lab, looking at curriculum, we’re investing that into tomorrow’s work force.” The selfless nature of Air Products’ partnership with SkillsUSA is apparent in story after story. (“I have a hundred of them,” Gostley-Hackett says.) And yet, considering that so many of Air Products’ efforts involve students pursuing careers outside of the company’s realm of opera-tions, the question must be asked one more time: What’s in it for them? “A partnership doesn’t always have to be bottom-line driven,” DeCastro explains. “When you have the chance to make a difference in a student’s life, that’s the return on investment.” 0HOTO&#1a;(O9IN!U U  3KILLS53!#HAMPIONS3PRING

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