4,527 Volunteers, a World of Difference

More than 25% of Americans volunteered last year. Maybe it’s an hour a month or one or two days a year or maybe it’s a whole lot more. The President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA) was established in 2003 to recognize those who go above and beyond and who demonstrate a sustained commitment to service.

Recognition isn’t why people volunteer and give their time, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t salute them. Today, that is just what AT&T is doing. AT&T employees go to extraordinary measures to work with and for their communities. It’s just who they are, and each year employees share unique and heartwarming stories about the time they spend giving back.

Take Michael “Smiley” King. Smiley spent more than 500 hours volunteering last year. That is nearly ten hours per week, which is on top of the hours he spends on the job as an AT&T engineer. He shares his love of the outdoors to promote conservation and environmental stewardship by managing Paddle Adventures Unlimited. This organization hosts thousands of free events bringing together more than 4,000 members to paddle rivers, lakes and creeks throughout Tennessee and Kentucky. This might sound more like fun than service — and it is fun! — but it also helps make protecting the environment a deeply personal cause for thousands of people in his community.

Fifteen years ago, the Cumberland River flowing through Nashville was polluted and unsafe for swimming. Today, thanks to groups like Paddle Adventures Unlimited and the work they do with local governments and conservation groups, you’ll see hundreds of people enjoying the river on any given weekend. The more people in the water, the more advocates there are for keeping it clean. It is a passion that motivates Smiley and one that he is spreading to his neighbors and his colleagues. In fact, he’ll be taking a group of them out during National Volunteer Month in April to show them firsthand how important it is to preserve the river.

“The future of our rivers depends on us,” Smiley says. “We are all called to be champions of our environment so it can be here for us and our children and generations of children after them.”
Cumberland River Paddlefest; Nashville, TN

Smiley is one of 4,527 AT&T employees who are receiving the PVSA award this month. Each of them has their own story. Whether it’s protecting our natural resources, supporting our veterans or helping students graduate on time, in 2015 AT&T employees spent more than 5.4 million hours making a positive impact. Please join AT&T in thanking them for making a difference and read about other stories like Smiley’s here.