It is a surprise to me to be writing this. I didn’t really think I achieved much during my time at GE. But looking back, there were some wonderful highlights.
I was employed at General Electric (GE) Smallworld for five years as a technical author. My role was to write training materials for the software the company developed. No reflection on GE, it was just the wrong role for me. But in hindsight, I learned a lot about documentation and training which has stood me in good stead as I returned to IT support
But what I enjoyed the most was my experiences as a fundraiser, chief Fire Marshal and Lead First aider. All voluntary roles.
As part of the fundraising role, we:
- collected print cartridges and stamps for local charities
- collected old IT equipment to be sent to Africa
- encouraged spring cleaning of our employees homes and gave bags and bags of goodies to Jimmy’s night shelter
- collected teddy bears for CamSAR
But one of my proudest ventures was the support we gave to a local school.
School nature project
A brand new primary school was being built nearby. I drove past it each morning on my way to work, and often walked past at lunchtime. Though the school was lovely, the grounds were in dire need of attention. It was a poorer area of Cambridge, and funds were not in great supply.
So, I contacted the school and asked if our volunteer team could help. They jumped at the offer.
The school wanted to create a fenced-off vegetable garden for pupils to grow their own vegetables and plants. They also wanted a nature reserve to encourage butterflies and bees. In addition, they wanted a green house. This was to be constructed from plastic soda bottles, as a recycling project. The teachers put together a plan of what they wanted and sent it to us.
Staff at GE are given three days a year to volunteer on local projects. So, we picked a day, and a small army of GE volunteers pitched up for a good day’s work.
The staff had expected that maybe 2 of the 6 vegetable beds would be built that day. By the end, all but two of the beds were in place, along with the fence. The school were thrilled.
They were so enthused that within weeks they had saved enough bottles for the green house. (I can just imagine a school full of kids high on soda drink ‘E’ numbers!)
The GE staff returned a couple of months later to complete the vegetable beds and build the greenhouse. Again they worked so hard, there was time left over to work with the pupils potting the plants ready to go in the beds and greenhouse.
It was a huge success. Everyone was delighted at the new garden, and there were plans next to create a nature reserve at the rear of the garden. To attract bees and butterflies.
However, a few months later, we learned that arsonists had destroyed the garden, outbuilding and the greenhouse. The school and the volunteers were devastated.
But with the help of donated goods from a local building firm, the community rallied. GE staff among them. And soon the garden was returned to its former glory.
Jimmy’s Night Shelter
Gardening projects were very popular at GE. Office workers like to get out into the sunshine.
So one other project close to my heart was Jimmy’s Night Shelter allotment. The idea was to encourage Jimmy’s residents to grow their own fruit and vegetables. To give them a sense of purpose. But the residents rarely stayed long, so getting the plot ready would be a challenge.
Again, GE staff stepped in and spent two days helping Jimmy’s staff and residents to clear out the plot and construct beds. And again, they achieved so much in such a short time. Everyone at Jimmy’s was delighted.
An important by product of these projects is that GE staff get a chance to meet the people they are supporting. In Jimmy’s case, the residents. One was battling cancer. Another hoped to return to family up North.
Suddenly, these people were not nameless, homeless people on the streets. They were colleagues, friends, with stories to tell, just like us.