Brenda Turner, senior residential channel coordinator, is passionate about her job here at Gas South, as well as her role as a mentor for kids in our community.
In 2015, she started teaching and mentoring students every Sunday as a small group leader at Decatur City Church. Brenda has witnessed the eight students grow from preschoolers to second graders after spending her Sundays with them for the last three years. She teaches them weekly life lessons, listens to their stories with enthusiasm and is continuing to set an example for kids on what it means to serve others.
Volunteering as a small group leader is fulfilling Brenda’s urge to look beyond herself to do something greater. She started volunteering as a mentor at Woodson Park Academy – a Title 1 school – in August 2017. Of the students enrolled at Woodson, 98 percent are eligible for free or reduced lunches, which is an indication of the need within the community.
“I’ll never forget the day I met my mentee,” Brenda said. “I walked into the school and they announced her name. Everyone started cheering and celebrating. It was like she won the lottery and it was just me meeting her for lunch.”
The program pairs volunteers with elementary students, and then volunteers are asked to visit the school once a month to spend an hour with the mentee. During that hour, volunteers teach the students a different virtue each month, and provide games and fun activities to do together.
“Obstacles we think will keep us from volunteering are not really obstacles at all,” Brenda added. “We often discredit what we have to give. The look on my mentee’s face when she sees me every month shows me that I’m a part of something special.”
Gas South employees are given eight hours of paid volunteer time a year, and since the volunteer program is eight sessions, Brenda is able to use those hours to give back to children in need. And for one little girl, that makes all the difference in the world.
Thank you, Brenda, for showing us all what it means to be a fuel for good.
Basketball may be just a game for some people. But, Brandon Miller is not one of those people. The sport means so much more.
Brandon has been volunteering his time to coach a basketball team of 9- and 10-year-old boys through the City of Acworth’s Park and Recreation Department. Brandon combines his passion for sports and helping children to give back to the community that’s given him so much over the years.
“The young men on my team come from various backgrounds,” Brandon said. “They’re all in need of positive role models. Many of these kids live in single-parent homes and face daily challenges that no one should be subjected to.”
Brandon’s goal is to not only help kids improve their basketball skills, but to also show them someone in their life cares. He also believes children learn many lessons through sports which will help them navigate life: the importance of teamwork, the idea that hard work leads to results, how to persevere in the face of adversity, and what it means to keep a commitment.
“All of these lessons are transferable to everyday life, and they’re the lessons I hope to instill in each of these young men.”
The team, named Crimson Tide, practices two or three nights a week and has a game once a week. Brandon doesn’t take for granted the time he spends with the kids. Every interaction is meaningful; if they aren’t discussing basketball, they’re talking about school or their goals and dreams.
Through Gas South’s sponsorship with the Altanta Hawks, Brandon had the opportunity to take his team to a game in December. Most of the boys had never been to a professional sports game and many never dreamed they’d get that chance. Needless to say, they had a great time.
“The guys were so excited about seeing their favorite team play. I can’t express enough how happy they were that night. It was very moving to personally experience the impact of what we see as a small gesture – to these kids, it means so much more.”
And, it means something to Gas South as well.
Brandon Miller is a senior residential channel coordinator at Gas South. When he’s not helping build our multifamily business and spending time with family, you can find him setting an example of what it’s like to be a fuel for good for kids in our community.
On September 23rd, 2017 Sheirra Granville, Gas South Customer Care Department representative, graduated from Strayer University with a master’s degree in adult education and development. She started school in July 2015 and graduated with a noteworthy 4.0 GPA.
Sheirra took advantage of Gas South’s Educational Assistance Program that supports employees who wish to continue their education. The program is designed to assist employees in their professional development by encouraging voluntary academic studies that contribute to improved performance.
Sheirra chose to attend Strayer University to enhance her skills and position herself for even more career advancement opportunities.
“The tuition reimbursement program is a great way to cover the cost of attending school,” Sheirra said. “This program has supported me financially by creating a way to pay off loans at the end of the course.”
Continuing her education has enhanced the training Sheirra offers her teammates at Gas South – specifically, the skills she needs to efficiently prepare training programs for adults and effectively guide a best-in-class customer care team.
“If you’re thinking about continuing your education, go for it,” Sheirra added. “It’s worth the investment to get the additional skills needed to make you more marketable in your industry or desired field. Investing in yourself will open doors for greater things.”
Sheirra isn’t stopping there—her next goal is to earn a Ph.D in educational leadership.
The Educational Assistance Program is just one of the many benefits that Gas South offers employees. Our company is proud to invest in employees because we want to help make their lives better—and their commitment makes us better.
According to studies of Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For®, corporate cultures with a high level of trust among employees and leadership have significantly lower turnover and better financial performance compared to industry peers. These companies also experience increased innovation, higher customer satisfaction, greater brand recognition, more success in attracting and retaining top talent and increased agility and speed. In human terms – greater success and higher spirits.
In October 2016, Gas South established its Great Place to Work (GPTW) Team to help foster that sense of trust by uncovering meaningful insights and making positive changes to create a better overall employee experience.
The goal of the team is to understand what’s most important to our coworkers so that working at the company is an amazing endeavor for employees every day – and to set the standard for providing a productive and fulfilling company culture.
After more than a year of combined effort, the team has enhanced the flex/telecommute policy, modified work shifts for the Customer Care Center Reps, improved the tuition assistance policy, inspired one another through a companywide recognition program, and created unparalleled career development activities.
By continually launching new purpose-driven initiatives and improvements, Gas South’s GPTW Team is proud to help the company continue to lead the way in cultivating a truly outstanding work environment.
Mentoring the Kell Robotics Team through the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) Leadership Foundation takes real heart – something Rajiv Thomas, Gas South systems engineer, knows well.
The Kell Robotics Team is a group of about 16 high school students who participate in two regional competitions each year in hopes of making it to the state championship and ultimately, the world championship.
Every January, competing teams take part in a kickoff event at Georgia Tech where they’re tasked with building a robot in 60 days. That robot then has to complete a challenge to move forward in the competition.
Rajiv is part of a group of volunteers that mentor the team which meets at least twice a week to plan, design and build the amazingly efficient robot and ensure that it’s ready for the showdown.
Last year, the Kell Robotics’ team won the Chairman’s Award at the Georgia State Championships to make it to the world championship in Houston. And even though their robot didn’t place, the kids who get to learn from these experiences are the real winners.
“Anyone can build a robot and compete, “said Rajiv. “We push kids to problem solve on their own. We don’t do the work for them – we just guide them. It’s truly fulfilling to watch the kids think outside the box and work through obstacles.”
The Chairman’s Award recognizes teams for how they encourage STEM education – it honors the team that inspires others to get involved in STEM. The Kell Robotics Team has proudly won the award a few times.“We encourage a love of STEM – and see our students become better people,” Rajiv added. “When we were at the World Competition, the team from Israel was not able to get their batteries through Homeland Security. Our students offered to let them borrow our batteries when we weren’t using them. That was a proud moment for me.”
Rajiv tirelessly encourages students to grow outside the classroom. He’s passionate about igniting the imaginations of young minds and is truly an inspiration to others who also have a desire to be a fuel for good.
Nearly a century ago, Veteran’s Day was established to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served our country. As Veteran’s Day celebrations take place across metro Atlanta, we took the opportunity to speak with two employees – Ida Susan Graham and Judge Montgomery – about their service and what Gas South is doing for veterans.
How is Gas South committed to honoring our veterans?
Judge Montgomery: We offer special deals and discounts for those who served and still serve our country. As a special “thank you” to the men and women in our armed forces, Gas South provides a 2-cent per therm discount on both variable and fixed rate plans for veterans and active military personnel. And we won’t charge you a deposit to setup your service.
Ida Susan Graham: We encourage vets and active duty personnel to take advantage of the discount, particularly with colder weather around the corner. Especially since it has been predicted that there will be an increase in natural gas bills due to colder weather headed our way this winter.
Other than the everyday deals and discounts, how else does Gas South pay it forward to veterans?
Judge: Gas South is committed to making a difference in the community year-round. This year Gas South gifted a Marine and his wife an energy efficient makeover in partnership with Cobb EMC and the Cobb Heating and Air Association. The total value was an impressive $20 thousand, and they received two years of free natural gas from Gas South!
Ida Susan: Wes and Shannon Pilgrim of Marietta, Georgia, were nominated by their neighbors. Wes is known in his neighborhood as the type who would do anything to help – and it was great to be able to help him in return.
As a Gas South employee, what is the company doing to salute veterans?
Ida Susan: I feel blessed to work for a company that truly takes care of their employees. This year Gas South veteran employees have been given Veterans Day off, so we can spend time with our families. It’s a great way for Gas South to take that extra step to show they care.
Judge: Kevin Greiner, president and CEO, also personally thanked each one of us and presented us with a gift to show his appreciation of our service.
As veterans, how was the transition to Gas South?
Judge: The military gave me a higher sense of discipline and accountability. After serving nine years in the military, I’ve learned to adapt to my surroundings – and I’ve learned to apply the same discipline and accountability to my position at Gas South.
Ida Susan: I served more than 20 years in the U.S. Army and USAR. My military time has been my life, and without it, my life would have not blossomed into my three flowers – my children. I served in many places and learned so much. It’s truly helped me to be the leader I am today.
Yesterday, I was recognized by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as one of the 2016 Women Who Mean Business. Each year, this distinction honors women leading, inspiring and shaping Atlanta.
When I found out I was among the 20 honorees, I was shocked, honored but mostly just humbled. I’m grateful to have my efforts in the office, the natural gas industry and our local community at large acknowledged in such a heartening way. I try to base everything I do on helping whoever I can, whenever I can, in whatever way I can and to the very best of my ability. This is what drives me forward every day.
“Always speak to people with kindness and respect because it may be the only positive interaction they have that day.” Those words of advice, spoken to me by a close friend, have remained with me throughout my career as one of the best lessons I’ve learned. I believe every person with whom I come in contact can say that’s true of me.
Decades later, my advice to others, particularly women climbing the corporate ladder, is to always reach back and reach out. I believe we ascend the ladder of success, rung by rung, with the support of others. I try to uplift others by spreading positivity and enthusiasm, offering career advice and volunteering my skills. We should all be helping and supporting others at every moment possible.
Doing the right thing is sometimes a simple act, yet the results can be powerful. I want to give the sincerest thanks to the Atlanta Business Chronicle for this award and to my friends, family, mentors and colleagues for their continuous love and support.
We spoke to Brenda Turner, residential channel coordinator, to learn more about Hands on Atlanta Day and what it means to her to volunteer in the communities where we live, work and play.
By: Brenda Turner
One of my favorite things about being a Gas South employee is the company’s dedication to giving back to the community. We participate in many local service programs year-round, and most recently, I had the opportunity to lead Hands On Day Atlanta Day 2016 – the largest and most prestigious corporate volunteer day of service in Atlanta.
Approximately 50 Gas South employees volunteered a total of 200 hours at Camp Timber Ridge in partnership with the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta. We helped spruce up the campground – chopping wood, clearing roadways, putting up new tents and painting pavilions.
Though it may be what they’re best known for, the Girl Scouts do a lot more than sell delicious cookies – just like Gas South does more than market natural gas! But don’t take my word for it. Check out this short video about our experience volunteering with the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta for Hands on Atlanta Day.
Alternative fueled vehicles have attracted a lot of attention in the last few years, but the media buzz has mostly centered around electrics due to improved battery efficiency and Tesla’s loud arrival on the scene. However, petroleum has another competitor looming on the horizon: compressed natural gas (CNG). Yes, the same fuel used to heat your home also powers many of the commercial and transportation vehicles you see on the road every day. Last year, for example, MARTA announced plans to buy 270 new CNG buses, adding to the 420 already in its fleet.
With an abundance of domestic reserves to draw from and, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, a 90- to 97- percent reduction of carbon monoxide emissions versus petroleum, CNG is primed for continued growth. We’ve also seen significant enhancements to CNG’s commercial infrastructure and an increase of refueling stations. In Georgia, Gas South has helped lead the way by supplying stations, transit systems and waste management fleets with natural gas.
How long will it be until you’re fueling up on CNG? Probably not for a few years, but don’t rule it out in the future. CNG vehicles are already being introduced into the consumer marketplace, albeit without media fanfare, and by most measures they’re showing early promise. In fact, one of our mid-market sales account managers, Craig Hallerman, recently acquired one, a 2016 Chevrolet Impala hybrid. So, we thought it’d be a great idea to share his thoughts on his new ride, which has been attracting a lot of attention among travelers and car enthusiasts on Atlanta’s highways.
Q: Why did you take the plunge and get a CNG vehicle? A: “I wasn’t in the market for an alternative fueled vehicle but because I work in the natural gas industry, I looked into it. Gas South took care of wrapping the car in company branding because I do a lot of driving, so it gets lots of visibility – and compliments. I average about 500 miles a week, and as a clean-burning fuel, CNG is considered better for the life of an engine, so that’s something that caught my interest.”
Q: How does the car perform in general – notice any major differences? A: “It’s super nice and really comfy. Honestly, it feels like I’m driving a regular Chevy.”
Q: But it’s a hybrid, meaning it runs on gas and CNG. Sounds complicated. Is it? A: “Not really. There are two separate tanks – a traditional gas tank and the natural gas tank is behind the back seat. There are also two fuel gauges – the car defaults to natural gas until it runs out, and then it switches to the regular gas tank.”
Q: Tell us how you go about fueling the vehicle. A: “I don’t have a home-fueling device so I go to a commercial station to fill up on natural gas. There are 15 stations in the city, including one that’s on my way home.”
Q: Fuel efficiency is a major reason why people look at alternative fuel options. Are you noticing any differences between the two? A: “On the highway, natural gas certainly gets better mileage but regular gas seems to do better in the city. Right now, I’m averaging in the high 20s on the highway and about 18-20 in the city.”
Q: Have you found any other perks of driving an alternative fueled vehicle?A: “Yes, one big one: less traffic because Georgia gives alternative fueled vehicles HOV-lane access. That makes it easier driving around Atlanta, especially during rush hour…and my job requires a lot of driving.”
Q: Is obtaining a CNG vehicle the same as you would expect for a regular car? A: “It’s different. It started with a conversation with GM reps and then I went to a dealership to build the car. It was a six month process. The Impala was built in Canada and then sent to Detroit for outfitting.”
Q: How long can you drive on the tanks before refueling? A: “I can go up to 500 miles before running out of gas, which means that I can use the vehicle for all of my needs.”
Have a story to share about a CNG vehicle or a question for Craig about his car? Just let us know in the comments.
It’s mid-summer and everyone is working hard to get in shape and make healthy decisions to look and feel their best! Gas South’s Wellness Committee works year-round to provide employees with educational tools and resources so they are able to become the best version of themselves. For this month’s Employee Spotlight, we spoke with Harli Gawronski, human resources coordinator, to learn more about the committee, their initiatives and why it’s important to provide employees with tools to succeed. Harli leads the Wellness Committee which is a team of six employees from different departments at Gas South.
When did the Wellness Committee start?
The committee started about three years ago in order to provide Gas South employees with more awareness about healthy lifestyle choices.
Why was the Wellness Committee created?
It was originally created to help employees get up and move, considering the majority of our employee sit at a desk all day. Since the start three years ago, we now have more concrete goals, leadership buy-in, employee engagement, participation and focus. We are currently working through a three-year implementation plan that aims to encourage employees to take more responsibility in managing their health and wellness. In 2015, we raised awareness about being healthy and the costs when employees make poor lifestyle choices. In 2016, we are requiring employees to take responsibility for themselves – employees will pay less for coverage by knowing their health numbers, and engaging in activities to get their numbers in the healthy range. In 2017, employees will receive financial rewards towards their medical coverage premiums tied to the results of the biometric screening, rather than just participating in the screening.
What are the focus areas and goals of the committee this year?
Since we want employees to take the initiative to be responsible for their healthy or unhealthy lifestyle decisions, we are focusing on nutrition in order to address, and then impact, the risk categories from our biometric screens – which take into consideration BMI and waist circumference.
What are the specific initiatives that will be implemented to reach those goals?
Every other month, we bring a local vegetable farmer into the office to encourage employees to investigate healthy eating options. We also provide employees with a voucher so they do not need to spend any of their own money to make a purchase, unless they choose to purchase additional produce. We also continue to have fruit delivered every other month to create a culture of healthy eating.
Another initiative, the Wellness in Action Run/Walk Program, promotes movement and physical activity. We’re encouraging Gas South employees to walk or run in local road races throughout the year. Gas South sponsors a walk/run each month for up to ten Gas South employees and we have already had a few successful walks/runs to date!
Gas South also recently gave all employees portion plates to correspond with our initiative to improve and educate employees about nutrition’s role in a healthy lifestyle. The plate stresses healthy portion sizes and is split up into three sections – fruits and vegetables, grains, and proteins.
Do you have any employee challenges planned?
We are implementing a nutrition challenge in July and a weight loss challenge at the beginning of the year.
Why does wellness play such an important role at corporations?
Wellness can impact so many different areas of a corporation from retention to engagement to work/life balance. Wellness is also a major driver or healthcare costs.
Why is it important to you, personally, to be involved with the Wellness Committee?
To me, wellness is a lifestyle and I feel very passionate about it. Wellness is not only physical, but also mental and spiritual. It’s a holistic experience that bleeds into every part of one’s life. Secondly, being part of the Wellness Committee enables me to impact other people’s lives and for that, I’m very grateful.
Wellness committee members include:
Tonya Long (Millennium Benefits)