Engaging the Community: The Interstates Foundation


 The Interstates Foundation’s Engage program was launched in 2021 to help our team members get involved with causes in their communities. This blog series introduces the program, the roles that make this project successful, and the people positively impacting their communities by engaging. Learn about one of these projects here. Discover how the Engage program started.

Read on to hear from Louise Ozmina (Sr. HR Generalist) and Austin Sudtelgte (BIM Developer) about how the Interstates Foundation is helping Engage grow in the Interstates regional offices and beyond. 

What is your role in the Engage program?

Louise: As a member of the Foundation Board of Directors, I help oversee the Engage program and hope to continue using it for team member involvement in their local communities. We are confident this will be a booming program driving participation in different areas of the country. As an Interstates team member, I am hopeful to use the Engage platform to launch a service project at our Fort Collins, CO, Regional Office this year. 

Austin: I’m a Foundation chairperson, responsible for the overarching management and goal setting of Engage. I’m also an active participant and enthusiast of community serving and involvement. I have enjoyed interacting with the community and other members of Interstates as we perform service projects. I generally try to participate at least once a year through Engage. 

How does Engage align with the goals of the Interstates Foundation?

Louise: Engage is a direct result of the values and purpose of the Interstates Foundation. Encouraging our team members to impact our communities positively is exactly why the Foundation and Engage exist.  

Austin: The Foundation strives to give back to our community. The everyday role of the Foundation is to decide what happens with our charitable giving; Engage is the service side of giving back. Generally, we are on the lookout for places asking for both a donation of money and time when we decide how to distribute funds. 

What excites you most about the Engage program?

Louise: We’re in an interesting time where there’s been a lot of separation due to the pandemic. It’s exciting that this program encourages getting our teams together again, collaborating outside of work, and reinforcing our Family core value. I think now more than ever, the reminder of our core values and why we continue to do what we do is critical in keeping us connected. 

Austin: As an Eagle Scout, I grew up doing lots of service projects and community service-type tasks. As an adult, it can be more difficult to find these opportunities on your own. Engage has been the bridge for me to get back into something I love, as well as be a great cause for the Foundation to support and manage, in addition to a great thing for our communities! 

How do you see Engage growing in the Interstates regional offices?

Louise: Engage is a great way to partner with local communities and what’s important to our team members in those areas. The end goal is to get all regional offices involved at some level, knowing that each regional office and its community has a different community focus. We need to empower regional team members to drive their personalized community engagement. 

Austin: Presently, there aren’t a lot of Engage service projects happening in regional offices. We do at least one project a year consisting of a food/toy/clothes drive around the holidays, but I’d like to see more involvement from the people at the regional offices and at least three additional projects happening exclusively in regional offices next year. 

What’s your vision for the future of Engage?

Louise: More engagement from regional offices. Giving them the knowledge and freedom to really own the projects they want to participate in and drive that engagement with the communities we serve. There’s a lot of room for a greater impact beyond Iowa and South Dakota. We need to look at things from a broader lens to see the areas we have an opportunity to impact. 

Austin: There are so many options for the future of Engage! I think the one idea that makes the most sense would be for Engage to continue growing and gaining more employee involvement in regional offices or even at the home offices. I think a great pie-in-the-sky goal would be to have 50% involvement from our team members over the course of one year. More is always welcome, too! 

If you have questions about this program, email foundation@interstates.com.  


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