Findlay, Ohio,
03:31 PM

Highlighting Honor, Appreciation, Support and Thanks

In recent months, employees at Marathon Petroleum Company LP’s (MPC’s) refinery in Garyville, La., took part in several outreach activities aimed at honoring the sacrifices of others, protecting the environment, preserving the past, preparing for the future, and improving quality of life for friends and neighbors.

Honoring veterans

Garyville refinery employees annually honor all U.S. military veterans by sponsoring Veteran’s Day celebrations and Combat Marines events, conducting care-package drives and raising funds for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in St. John Parish. “This year, we also honored our own on Veteran’s Day in a special way,” says Human Resources Manager Jaime De La Cruz. “Refinery employees who have served or are serving in the military were presented a special commemorative coin. A total of 42 coins were distributed to honor our employees for their sacrifices and efforts to protect our freedom.”

The refinery sponsored the annual VFW banquet in nearby Lutcher, with De La Cruz as a keynote speaker. Garyville retiree Poncho Roussel and Maintenance Foreman Jeff McClung prepared a meal for veterans there, with Advanced Refining Planner Mary Beth Merrill, Board Operator Carter Merrill, and De La Cruz serving the guests.

Garyville’s Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Team also was among the sponsors of a Veteran’s Day celebration at the Southern Louisiana War Veterans Home. D&I team members were accompanied by Wesley Perry, refinery operator technician and U.S. Marine Corps veteran. Highlights of the event included speeches by local veterans, the parish president and the sheriff.

“The local chapter of the Young Marines kicked off the event with a Presentation of Colors and closed it by releasing red, white and blue balloons,” notes Gerard Steib, Operations RADAR coordinator. “The veterans also performed a 21-gun salute and played taps. The ceremony was followed by food and entertainment, and everyone got a chance to thank the many veterans for their service.”

A taste of home

Garyville refinery employees showed thanks to members of the military from Louisiana who are currently stationed overseas by shipping them a “taste of home.” Care packages were also delivered to five family members of refinery employees serving stateside.

“The Adopt-A-Troop Program involves putting together care packages for shipment to U.S. soldiers,” explains Community Relations Representative Aspen Steib. Along with HES Professional Amanda Hall, Steib organized a drive to collect local favorites to include in the packages. “Local favorites included things like Zapp’s Potato Chips, Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning and pralines, items the soldiers might be enjoying if they could be home for the holidays,” notes Steib.

“In addition to overwhelming employee support, we received donations from Kraft Foods, Luzianne Tea, Zatarain’s and even handmade cards from a local elementary school,” said Steib. “Due to the support of these organizations and refinery employees, we were able to ship more than 150 boxes to troops stationed in Afghanistan. We appreciate all those who devoted time and energy toward making the drive a success.”

Preserving the past

Located adjacent to the Garyville refinery is the San Francisco Plantation, a national treasure and bona fide piece of American history. The refinery and its employees have played a major role in restoring the plantation, raising funds for its upkeep and also volunteering at the annual Frisco Fest.

“Frisco Fest is the largest fundraiser done each year to help in the plantation’s upkeep,” explains Steib, Frisco Fest chair. “The festival is held on the plantation grounds, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and described as the most opulent plantation house in North America.”

MPC acquired the plantation when it originally purchased the Garyville refinery in 1976 and spent three years restoring the house to its original, antebellum (pre-Civil War) condition. “Throughout the summer of 2014, the plantation underwent a second restoration, to the tune of about $1.5 million, with our employees managing the repairs,” notes De La Cruz. “The upper gallery was completely restored, as was artwork displayed throughout the mansion.”

“The San Francisco Plantation is a vital part of American history; it gives visitors a firsthand look at what life was like on a southern plantation before the Civil War,” he adds. “We are pleased and proud to be able to play a role in its preservation so that future generations can see that history, too.”

Protecting the environment

Garyville refinery volunteers have participated in the annual Household Materials Collection Day for St. John Parish since its inception in 1998. “People often purchase materials for home use and improvement, yard work and auto-repair projects and don’t know how to properly dispose of leftover, hazardous materials,” notes HES Professional Jay Lambremont. “Household Materials Collection Day provides a means for area residents to safely dispose of solvents, poisons, used oil, electronics and batteries, much of which is recycled.”

Of the 48,510 pounds of materials collected at the 2014 event, 93 percent was recycled or recovered.

“It’s all part of our corporate values,” explains Steib, as to why the refinery places such importance on community involvement. “We’re a major employer in the area. And besides, it’s also our community. We want it to be the very best it can be for our families, friends, neighbors and co-workers.”