Apr 28, 2020

Hats off to our heroes of volunteerism

What do a scientist, billing specialist, right of way agent, engineer and IT specialist all have in common? Other than being PPL employees, they are all stand-out volunteers in the community and heroes to the ones they help.

We are proud of the selfless acts and kindness that PPL volunteers display day in and day out as they devote tens of thousands of hours to assist the communities where we live and work.

 

Each year, PPL recognizes the efforts of seven of those volunteers that have truly moved mountains in the organizations they serve.

We commend all of PPL’s volunteers and give special recognition to the following employees:

 

2020 PPL Volunteer of the Year

A scientist and life-long learner, Meg Welker isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty during a United Way Day of Caring landscaping project. Nor is she afraid to teach STEM concepts to students and the public in a formal setting.

“Meg is a natural leader and full of enthusiasm that is contagious,” says Alana Roberts, who nominated Welker, a PPL senior environmental professional. “She is a successful volunteer because she goes out of her way to see a project through to the end. She is reliable, enthusiastic, committed and genuine.”

Welker is past president of the Wayne-Pike Chapter of the Pennsylvania State University Alumni Association and continues to be active with the group planning and conducting volunteer and fundraising activities.

She also frequently speaks to students about the importance of STEM, volunteers for PPL’s Cover to Cover literacy program, and serves on the PPL Foundation Northeast Grant Review Team.

Welker knows how to rally her fellow co-workers as a long-standing team captain for the PPL United Way campaign and coordinating projects, such as the recent sock collection for the homeless.

With her passion for science, she joined the board of the Lake Wallenpaupack Watershed Management District and volunteers for the Pennsylvania Envirothon and PPL’s Community Roots program.

In addition, she consistently supports the fundraising activities of various organizations, such as schools, libraries, volunteer fire departments, dive teams, and Rotary Clubs by donating raffle baskets and attending their events. Welker recently started a canned food collection as part of a summer open house at the funeral home she and her husband own.

Whether talking about her career, how electricity is delivered, or what critters live in Lake Wallenpaupack, she always has a captive audience.

 

PPL Leadership Recognition Volunteer Award winners

Adam Hoover

By day, Adam Hoover is a PPL Electric Utilities right of way agent. By nights and on the weekends, he gives tirelessly to help the youth in greater Hazleton communities.

“Adam wears many hats and handles many roles to ensure the youth participating in Valley West Baseball have a positive and well-rounded experience. It’s more than just a game!” said nominator Pam Yale. Adam serves on the Valley West Baseball Board of Directors and is a coach on his son’s team.

When not on the field, you can find Hoover shaping today’s youth and tomorrow’s leaders as chairman of the Anthracite District’s Boy Scouts of America. In addition, in 2008, Hoover was the Greater Hazleton United Way campaign chair, helping to raise almost $900,000 to support the Greater Hazleton area, and serves on the board of Greater Hazleton CAN DO, Inc., a private, non-profit industrial/economic development corporation.

“Adam has mastered the ability to dedicate his time to his job while also balancing that with all the volunteer work he does on a day-in, day-out basis,” said supervisor and nominator Joe George.

In the past, Adam has volunteered with the Muscular Dystrophy Association and has been a youth soccer coach.

 

Mohamad Kanbari

Mohamad Kanbari, better known as Mo, places strong personal value on life-long learning and community service.

“Mo understands how one committed individual can change lives and the face of our society. Without a doubt, Mo’s selflessness, compassion and drive epitomizes the very best of PPL,” said his supervisor and nominator Kimberly Gauntner.

In 2018, the support engineer began volunteering at The Literacy Center where he teaches English as a second language (ESL). Bilingual himself, Kanbari was born in Harrisburg but spent many of his formative years in the United Arab Emirates. Given this, he understands how weak language skills can make finding a job, navigating healthcare, and making friends in a new country much more difficult. Volunteering for at least 12 hours a month at The Literacy Center in Allentown, Kanbari has been able to not only teach English to his students, but also learn from their resilient spirit while bringing them security and confidence.

Recently, Kanbari took his passion a step further by collaborating with fellow PPL employee, Reem Eid, to offer weekend ESL programs at the Muslim Association of the Lehigh Valley.

In January 2020, he began volunteering at the Lehigh Valley Health Network Emergency Department where he works with patients and hospital staff to ensure patients have an optimal emergency experience. He is attaining his Pennsylvania Arabic Interpreter Certification.

Other volunteer activities include being a Big Brother through Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley, a mentor through PPL’s Exploring Post and former treasurer of REACH BRG.

“Mo’s approach is holistic and balances the need for education, communication and conservation in order to make his community better for its residents,” said co-worker Jennie Speelman.

 

PPL Peer-to-Peer Volunteer Award winners

Tammy Kirschman

Tammy Kirschman, billing specialist at Lehigh, doesn’t wait for volunteer opportunities to come her way, she creates them for herself.

“Between delivering food to the homeless and organizing fundraising events for nonprofits, she influences and inspires her friends and co-workers to volunteer as well,” said nominator Jess Rosato. “Tammy is thoughtful and kind and is always willing to put in the time, energy and effort to make someone else smile.”

Kirschman not only participates in company volunteer initiatives, but also organizes her own drives and fundraising events to contribute to nonprofit organizations in the community, and volunteers at Musikfest, the Sixth Street Shelter, local food banks and the YMCA, to name a few.

Her biggest passion is working with the homeless community.

“While I am very fortunate in my life today, it has not always been that way.  Because I have an appreciation of their situation, I have a deep desire to help those in need,” said Kirschman.

On the weekends Kirschman and her husband, Doug, volunteer with Caring Hearts, an agency that works to help the homeless community in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas.

In the past, the couple would go to Philadelphia or New York City to spend part of the day interacting and helping the homeless.

After a while, Kirschman decided to do more and began making care packages for the homeless. These packages include socks, hats, hand warmers, tuna fish, crackers, lotion, toothbrush, nail clipper, comb, among other items. Today they spend weekends in downtown Allentown and Philadelphia where they can help a larger number of people at one time.

“We found that helping others is contagious. We had co-workers and friends contacting us to help out. They would donate items to put in our care packages and even came along with us to help,” said Kirschman.

“Tammy has always been the first to give to any cause and help in any way she can. I admire her heart,” said Brenda Gross, who also nominated Kirschman.

 

Keri Krasley

Each month, the Technology, Development and Improvement department at Walbert coordinates a “Charity of the Month.” Leading that charge is project manager-training Keri Krasley, who ensures that everything runs smoothly.

“Because of Keri’s work, along with the rest of the department, TDI has donated an amazing amount of supplies to homeless facilities and animal shelters, as well as specific other charitable organizations,” said nominator Sue Drabic.

Aside from the company-wide drives such as Cover to Cover, the Christian Business Resource Group sock drive and food drives, Krasley has organized collections for school supplies for teachers in low-income areas, hygiene and other items for women’s and men’s shelters, care packages for troops, bikes and tools for Community Bike Works, and supported the Miracle League, where her team sponsored more than 30 children at Christmas.

“Both Keri and our director, Paul Ward, have created a sense of family and pride that TDI has worked together to give back to the community,” said Drabic.

 

Anita Scott-Fennell

Relentless. Mission-driven. Passionate.

These are just some of the phrases that co-worker Brenda Stokes used to describe Anita Scott-Fennell, work management planner/scheduler for PPL Electric Utilities.

“When she gets wind of a need, she will find a way to see that the need is filled,” stated Stokes. “Her sense of urgency, along with her passion and relentless efforts, results in very successful outcomes.”

Scott-Fennell’s volunteerism runs the gamut. She volunteers for local food banks, her church, Harrison Morton middle school, local nursing homes, Musikfest, PBS39 and other places. She hosts a yearly holiday celebration for Cedarbrook Nursing Home residents to say thank you for the care her father received as a resident.

Last Thanksgiving, Scott-Fennell led an African American BRG food drive to benefit Muhlenberg College students (M.U.L.E. Community Chest) with over 1,500 items making up 25 boxes of nonperishable items.

Always looking ahead, this fall, Scott-Fennell plans to purchase sweatshirts to keep Harrison Morton students warm during the cooler months.

“Anita has a willingness to reduce inequality and inequity as she gives freely from her heart,” added Stokes.

 

Justin Sommer

When it comes to the United Way Day of Caring, you can count on Justin Sommer to be there. Last year, the intermediate data technologist could be found spackling and painting a room at the Sixth Street Shelter in Allentown.

“I value the opportunities that PPL has given me to give back to the community and be an active member in it,” says Sommer.

Nominated by colleague Erin Chuss, Sommer “goes out of his way to initiative and participate in volunteer activities at PPL. He shows great leadership and eagerly attracts people to get involved.”

Last year, Sommer created a competitive, but friendly, holiday food drive within the IT department. The result led to the collection of nearly 900 pounds of food for the local food bank. His goal this year? To collect 1,000 pounds. In addition, he works with his colleagues to donate holiday gifts to some of the children at the Sixth Street Shelter and to bake cookies for the families.

In addition, Sommer helped plant more than 150 trees along the Jordan Creek Greenway in Whitehall, a project that benefited the Wildlands Conservancy.