Duke Energy volunteers support Apparo’s mission through their dedication to advocacy and outreach.
We checked in recently with Zack Harris, IT Manager, and Liz Escobar-Fernandes, Software Engineering Manager at Duke Energy who have been serving as volunteer advocates for Apparo within their organization. They not only spread the work about volunteer opportunities, but have also created and manage a SharePoint site that provides an overview of working with Apparo, details on specific volunteer opportunities and more.
As Sarah Gregory, Apparo’s Program Manager explains, “Zack and Liz have gone above and beyond in recruiting Duke Energy employees to volunteer on various engagements with Apparo. We meet monthly to discuss updates and brainstorm new ways to recruit volunteers, such as Lunch & Learn events, where I will share information on Apparo and our volunteer opportunities, and the Tech Connect SharePoint page that they created internally. Outside of those meetings, they are actively sharing information with Duke Energy employees on how to get connected with Apparo.”
Zack shares about his motivation for helping Apparo, “I’ve been very involved with nonprofits over the past several year and I appreciate this opportunity to give back provided by Duke Energy leadership.”
Liz shares her personal perspective:
“I’ve volunteered with Apparo for the past five years and it’s very close to my heart. When I think about my history with Duke Energy, I think about Apparo. When I moved to Charlotte to start this job, I was looking for new volunteer opportunities. I started with Apparo as an IT Coach and I worried that I would not know enough, but actually, what was very simple to me was very impactful to the nonprofits I helped. They were so grateful because I helped them save so much time in the way they worked. This was an amazing opportunity to help out.
I have been spreading the word to other staff members on my team and across the organization about Apparo volunteer opportunities. I was so happy when Espoir Tomenou volunteered on the team to support Camino Community Center because they saved my father’s life by providing him medical care he could afford.”
Zack explains that when Duke Energy employees realize the uniqueness of the Apparo model, they are enthusiastic to volunteer:
“Sometimes people think, ‘oh, this is just another volunteer opportunity’, but them something clicks and they realize that volunteering with Apparo is truly unique because it allows them to take their technical abilities and other work skills and translate them into make a positive impact on the community. We get to help in a unique way that people don’t traditionally connect with volunteerism. People get very excited about that.
For those on our team who are really driven to give back, the Duke Energy relationship with Apparo is a very important aspect to them. It makes it easy for them, they don’t have to research and apply for opportunities on their own. Apparo makes it easy to volunteer and delivers a great experience to the volunteers. The information sessions that we coordinate and Sarah runs for us help set expectations. The project execution – connecting teams to projects, keeping them organized and going in the right direction – it’s all very well received.”
Liz shares about the positive feedback she’s heard from Duke Energy employees after they have volunteered with Apparo. “People find the volunteer work very rewarding. They are always asking me when the next project is starting and they are telling their friends to join them. They love to volunteer together with other Duke Energy employees. It’s exciting because they get to learn new skills and network with new people.
They are also excited when they realize that they are making a true long-term impact on these nonprofits, one that lives on after their engagement has ended. They feel so good because they know this would be very expensive labor for the nonprofits and that they may not otherwise be able to afford it. It helps them do more for the community because they don’t have to spend money on expensive tech and consulting services. That’s very meaningful.”
Liz explains why the connection with Apparo fits the Duke Energy culture. “One of our leadership imperatives is to ‘Power the lives of our customers and the vitality of our communities.’ At Duke Energy, as much as we prioritize operational excellence and providing reliable power – it’s at the core of the company’s values to uplift our community. What makes Apparo unique is that it gives us an outlet to help the community in a unique way using our specialized IT skills.”
Zach adds, “At Duke Energy, we believe in empowering peoples’ lives in our community. It’s important to our company as a whole to give back and build relationships across our communities. That truly aligns to working with Apparo.”
In closing, Sarah shares her appreciation, “I know I am speaking on behalf of all of my colleagues here at Apparo when I say we are so very grateful for Zack and Liz’s dedication to improving lives in the Charlotte community through volunteering, and we are excited for the future with them as our partners!”