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We’re inspired by the example of our employees who play active roles in our communities. Our volunteerism carries our vision to create boundless opportunities deep into the communities we serve. In order to keep our employees and communities safe, we made the decision to put most corporate volunteering on hold during the critical times of the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to getting back out and making a difference, in person again, in summer 2022.

Please enjoy some great stories of past volunteer experiences by the I&M team.

I&M Helps Light the Holidays at Gresham

The Suzanne Gresham Center, a division of Meridian Health Services, helps some of our most vulnerable members of society, including expecting mothers struggling with addiction and victims of child abuse and molestation. “Holidays at Gresham” is one more way in which they give back, putting together a drive-thru light exhibit to spread cheer and brighten the holiday season for their clients and the community. According to their website, “the holidays are about kids, lights and magical scenes… and it’s been said that you cannot light another’s path without brightening your own.” It’s a worthy cause we’re proud to help support.

In addition to being the presenting sponsor, we put elbow grease into this year’s display with a volunteer rush that accomplished weeks’ worth of work in one day. Rob Keisling, Community Affairs Manager, and Scott Bennett, Manager Distribution System, organized a group of employees from distribution, MRO, station, transmission and more to come together for our community.

Each task started with a safety brief and crews brought their expertise to bear, going so far as calling in additional trucks (such as the 150’ transmission bucket) to make sure the job was done safely and efficiently the first time. Multiple crews also stayed late in the cold, misty weather to ensure their tasks were finished.

Elkhart Line Mechanics Support the United Way

This is the largest cardboard boat race in the Midwest and the money raised will go towards helping several community partners including the Boys and Girls Club of Elkhart County and the American Red Cross.

This year’s race was at the LaSalle Bristol Corporate pond in Elkhart. 53 boats competed in several heats with the winning vessel advancing to the championship race. "The Electron" finished in third place.

Muncie Employees Support Children, Sponsor Safety Town

The event combined the Health and Fun Fair with a Ducky Derby Race. Approximately 2,500 people came through the event in just three hours.

For the first time, we were the presenting sponsor of Safety Town. It was a partnership with local police and fire departments. There was a miniature version of the city of Muncie. Kids cruised through Safety Town on tricycles and learned about traffic safety, internet safety, financial wellness and safe sleep.

For weeks prior to the event, businesses around Muncie were given an inflatable duck to sit outside their offices and businesses. We won best dressed for “Ducky McWatts.” Employees from all departments at the service center created a hard hat and safety glasses for Ducky.

It was a beautiful day as our employees also competed in the Ducky Derby Race Against Child Abuse.

Fam Fest raises awareness for the Suzanne Gresham Center – which helps improves the lives of children and families through counseling, family assistance, medical care and child abuse/recovery.

Employees Give Back for the Day of Caring

This was the second consecutive year we were paired with Red Cedar for the Day of Caring. The large number of our employees matched the project needs at the 57-acre campus, and Red Cedar management requested us due to our quality of the work at last year’s Day of Caring.

Camp Red Cedar is a not-profit agency that offers therapeutic and recreational horseback riding plus swimming, canoeing, summer camps and more in an inclusive environment with full wheelchair access open to people of all abilities.

Our team of volunteers spread across the campus. Among our accomplishments: Cleaning, repairing and staining several buildings and outdoor facilities; weeding the garden; moving a wheelchair swing; cleaning outdoor lean-tos; installing fly traps to help keep the pesky flies away from the horses; major cleaning of the horse barn, including removing cobwebs on the ceiling and replacing older lights with energy-efficient LED bulbs that we supplied; and moving and stocking more than 400 bales of hay.

Hands-On Learning at Baer Field

The annual visit is part of a partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs to support education in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Safety – not just around electricity but in all facets of life – is a major theme.

Boys & Girls Clubs participants visit the Fort Wayne training facility, to learn about safety as well as careers in the energy industry, the role of line mechanics and more. Highlights of the hands-on activity include walking on the slip simulator, which offers the opportunity to learn best ways to safely walk on ice; going up in a bucket truck; and learning how to use line mechanics' equipment.

"Hands-on learning experiences combined with career opportunities and STEM programs with great partners like Indiana Michigan Power provide our children a well-rounded experience," said Debby Stellwagen, Director of Development and Community Relations for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne. "The kids really enjoy experiences which reinforce what they learn. The I&M partnership is part of our new SPARK (Special Pathways for At Risk Kids) program to expose our members to the many job and career options available after graduation."

"This program offers a fun way for students at an impressionable age to learn more about science, technology, engineering and math," said Kim Sabrosky, our Director of External Affairs. "As students develop their focus of interests, we want them to know about the many exciting career possibilities in energy and other STEM fields. And we emphasize how important it is to be aware of safety in all that they do."

I&M Women Help Build Habitat Homes

We participated in Greater Fort Wayne Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build project recently, volunteering to help build two homes.

Our team was among 450 women who are building homes in Fuller’s Landing on West Cook Road, where our volunteers have previously volunteered.

Team members performed various tasks, including working on a front porch, preparing exterior walls for siding and hanging siding, installing hurricane clips, removing bottom framing on doors and closets with a reciprocating saw, planting bushes and mulching.

Habitat’s goal is to eliminate substandard housing. To qualify for a Habitat home, families take personal finance classes and contribute “sweat equity” by volunteering at the organization’s ReStore and helping build Habitat homes, including their own. The process takes about three years, and as homebuyers, they make interest-free mortgage payments.

Last fall, employees helped build Habitat homes in the South Bend area.

“Volunteering with co-workers to build homes for people who might not otherwise afford them is truly a rewarding experience,” said Kim Sabrosky, Director of External Affairs. “We enjoyed working together and watching these homes come closer to completion.”

The United Way of Southwest Michigan presented us the "Live United" award for our dedication to giving back to their communities with efforts like "Rake a Difference Day."

The "Live United" Award is given to the organization that demonstrates United Way’s core values of give, advocate and volunteer goals throughout the year. Toby Thomas, our President and Chief Operating Officer, accepted the award on behalf of the I&M family.

Our employees took time out of their busy workdays to help achieve one of the most successful fundraising campaigns. Employees volunteered in every United Way event and collected 11,000 items for "Christmas in June," adopted more than 30 foster children for Christmas, collected 600 books for "Spring into Reading" and sent teams to "Rake a Difference Day."

Nearly 50 employees continued our tradition of giving back to the community during the United Way Day of Caring on Aug. 22, performing numerous tasks to spruce up Camp Red Cedar northeast of Fort Wayne.

Red Cedar is a sprawling, 57-acre camp with a mission to provide a fun and caring environment for all family members – including those with disabilities. Red Cedar offers year-round retreats for children with autism, Down syndrome, and diabetes as well as traditional summer day camps. The campus offers rock-climbing, hayrides and is well- known for offering children with disabilities the opportunity to ride horses with assistance from an instructor certified by Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International.

Our volunteers spread throughout the campus to help. Teams:

  • Completed a deep clean on two barns, including wiping down large walls and tall ceilings.
  • Applied wood stain to freshen up the appearance of several benches and a footbridge.
  • Painted and repaired signposts along trails.
  • Performed another deep clean on the camp’s bathhouse.
  • Moved tables, chairs and games from older buildings slated for demolition to other areas of the camp.
  • Removed wire fencing.
  • Made creative new games for summer campers.

We contributed to a record day for the United Way of Allen County, with 1,800 volunteers working on 80 projects.

Will it sink or will it float? That was the ultimate question for participants, including two Indiana Michigan Power teams, who competed in the United Way of Elkhart County’s ninth annual Cardboard Race.

For weeks prior to the race, the line department from the Elkhart Service Center and a group of Customer Design Engineers from the South Bend Service Center constructed their boats. The vessel from Elkhart was named the “Power Shark” and “The Indefatigable” represented South Bend.

Both employees in Elkhart and South Bend plan to create a new boat and compete next year. The event is touted as the largest cardboard boat race in the Midwest and is one of the largest fundraisers for the United Way of Elkhart County. The money raised will go towards helping several community partners in Elkhart County.

We partnered again this year with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne to offer students in grades 4-6 the opportunity to further their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education.

For six weeks, 13 Boys & Girls Clubs participants in the after-school program learned about careers in the energy utility industry as well as doing hands-on three-dimensional computer programming and gaining knowledge of electricity, electrical wiring and electrical safety.

“Combining career opportunities and STEM programs with great partners like Indiana Michigan Power provide our children a well-rounded experience,” said Debby Stellwagen, Director of Community Relations for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne. “The kids really enjoy hands on experiences which reinforces what they learn. The I&M partnership is part of our new SPARK (Special Pathways for At Risk Kids) program to expose our members to the many job and career options available after graduation.”

The program concluded Thursday at the I&M Service Center on Baer Road with activities that included bucket-truck rides, the opportunity to safely handle equipment and learning about power line repair.

“I&M is committed to being a good citizen in the communities we serve, and advancing young people’s knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math is vitally important,” said Kim Sabrosky, our External Affairs Manager.

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