HIGHWAY CLEANUP from Goken America

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

On April 13th, as birds began singing their morning harmonies and locals began their weekend, a group of Goken team members was walking Interstate US-33 in Marysville, Ohio. No, walking the interstate is not something Ohioans do in Spring to “knock off the Winter blues”; we used the warming temperatures and time to volunteer and clean up the highway. Plastic, glass, tires, and even a paystub were removed as greenspace replaced waste, and jokes filled the flower-infused air.

With coffee and donuts making up the breakfast of champions, team members across Goken joined the event, from Design and Test Engineering to Sales and HR. Yet, it wasn’t the treats that brought us out early on a Saturday morning; it was the opportunity to join forces and volunteer our time to impact our community collectively. Volunteering is not only a way to positively impact the environment, but also a great way to meet new people and get to know your coworkers better. Design Engineer Dan Orr shared his motives for participating, “Being new to the company, this was a good way to meet coworkers, volunteering for a cause that benefits all. This really helps bring to light how poorly people dispose of trash, and our cleanup helps not only humans but also the wildlife that call our earth and oceans home.” Engagement Representative Alex Brickley added, “(Events like this) allow us to be recognized as a group that is willing to go the extra mile to make a difference.”

Events like this provide opportunities to live out Goken's Vision, Mission, and Values. The Vision centers on “empowering people to affect change wherever change is needed.” Building on the Vision, the Mission states, “by building trust, we foster greatness in our people, excellence in our clients, and impact in our communities.” Given the environmental and economic costs of litter, immediate impacts were realized beyond beautifying the area, including preventing waste from entering our waterways down-stream and supporting local government who often fight this battle alone. Operations Analyst JB Smith shared how volunteer activities have evolved at Goken, “This year, we added events to create more opportunities to bring our Goken family together and give back to our community. As we brainstormed ideas, we kept the Goken Vision, Mission, and Values in mind, and created new ways to get together as a team. Cleaning up the highway creates a collective sense of accomplishment and responsibility. What better way to build trust, foster greatness in our people, excellence in our clients, and impact our communities than to adopt a stretch of highway many Goken associates use to get to one of our most popular client sites? This gives all of us the opportunity to take pride in our environment, our company, and our community by calling that stretch that we use daily, our own.”

As morning became afternoon, and the trash bag count grew, there was plenty of excitement and comedy. Alex Brickley had the misfortune of losing a shoe in the mud (much to the amusement of his fellow volunteers). Though he was able to retrieve the shoe (and a very muddy sock), this became the subject of jokes for the rest of the day. As HR Generalist, Michelle Carlos, shares, days like this help with team building and building trust: “During these events, many of us get to learn more about what our teammates do at Goken, as well as talk about things outside of work. It’s refreshing to learn more about teammates and the activities and hobbies they enjoy.”

Goken’s values, commitment, integrity, and creativity, extend the vision and mission beyond business to include other professional and personal passions. A common passion shared across Goken is volunteering, but there are different motivations driving team members to volunteer and participate in events such as these. Business Services manager Bryan Ziemkiewicz shared, “I supported an EPA study years ago and saw first-hand the impact humans have on our waterways. From litter and agricultural waste to illicit sewer run-off; there are countless effects on creeks, rivers, and oceans caused by humans. It’s our responsibility to be part of the solution, not part of the problem, and this event allowed me to play a small part in helping reduce effects on Central Ohio waterways.”

It’s easy to underestimate the benefits of people giving their time, energy, and heart for their community; but the effects are shared. Communities benefit in an area of need, and volunteers benefit in gaining validation that the work they do is appreciated and important. Weekends are often times to rest, relax, and rejuvenate, but it’s remarkable the energy that can be gained in supporting something greater than oneself. Goken is proud of these employees who are living out its Vision, Mission, and Values, and is excited for more to join in the future.