CSR Spotlight: Empire State Ride To End Cancer

Here at Roux, an active CSR program is an integral part of our company values. Nathan Epler is one of our most active CSR participants; he has been at Roux for over 20 years as a Principal Hydrogeologist, and is Vice President of the non-profit organization Coastal Steward Long Island. On Sunday, July 30th Nathan took part in the Empire State Ride To End Cancer: a bike ride from Staten Island to Niagara Falls that lasts a full week, making up a 546-mile-long journey.

The annual Empire State Ride (ESR) benefits the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, located in Buffalo, New York. This institute is America’s primary cancer center where the nation’s first chemotherapy program was established, and has been conducting cutting-edge cancer research since 1898. Nathan (left) first heard about the ride and its cause through one of his friends, Steve Mars (middle). Steve is a cancer survivor, like many of the other riders. Some riders lost loved ones to cancer or had survivors in their immediate family. There were even some riders undergoing chemotherapy while participating in the week-long ride. The experience of riding together through long, exhausting days, paired with exchanging stories about how cancer affected their lives, created a close bond between the riders as they united to cycle for a cure. “You become a real team,” explained Nathan, “I began the race knowing one person and ended it feeling like I was part of a family.” What started out as a bike trip became something much more.

Nathan had a lifetime of cycling experience to prepare him for the ride. He began bike touring at age 14, carrying gear with him for American Youth Hostel trips. His love for bike touring led him to ride across the country twice, at ages 18 and 21, carrying heavy gear and led only by paper maps. He has been cycling ever since for both leisure and other fundraising events (such as the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure), but preparing to ride through New York State for a week straight required training he had never done before. “I wanted to prove to myself that I still had it in me to do this,” he said.

The trip began Sunday morning in Staten Island, where the riders took the ferry to lower Manhattan and started out on the green belt along the west side toward, and across, the George Washington Bridge. They traveled through the Palisades to Stony Point, making up a 57-mile ride. From then on, they traveled almost 80 miles a day for seven days straight through hills and heat. “New York State is absolutely gorgeous,” recalled Nathan, citing photos of rolling hills, farmland, and recollecting mostly good weather. There was one day where the group experienced a thunder and lightning storm, but Nathan didn’t mind since “it kept him cool.” The route proceeded up the Hudson Valley to Albany, and then west along the Erie Canal. In Albany, Nathan accidentally veered off the path and got separated from the group. He was met with an ESR representative who offered him a van ride to reunite with the rest of the group or return to camp. Instead, Nathan denied the ride and persisted, refusing to give up. Because of his off-course travels, he estimated to have totaled 570 miles, as opposed to the set 546.

Despite taking the road less traveled, Nathan described his journey as “bike riding heaven.” Many of the riders who came from triathlete or competitive backgrounds treated the ride as a race, but Nathan made a point to pace himself. He stopped to take photos often and take in the scenery. Rest areas on the side of the road provided food and water every 15-20 miles, and at night the riders slept in tents—an added bonus for Nathan, since he also loves to camp. These accommodations, as well as others like mobile bicycle repair trucks, great food, and a superb support staff, made for a safe, organized trip with zero accidents.

When the group finally made it to Niagara Falls on August 5th, they rode through the streets two by two and were greeted by over a thousand cheering people lining the route into the center of Niagara Falls. Many of the riders’ family members came to support and congratulate them, ending the week with an emotional and joyful celebration.

Nathan (left) riding through town in Niagara Falls, greeted by spectators lining the streets

The Roux Team, comprised solely of Nathan and Steve, raised $15,000 for the cause, putting us in fourth place out of all participating teams. The ride in total raised over half a million dollars—which will be matched, meaning over one million dollars will be donated to the Roswell Park Cancer Institute thanks to the Empire State Ride. Between the sights, the stories, and the friendships gained, Nathan described the ride as one of the most memorable experiences of his life. He plans to get back on his bike for the ESR again next year, hopefully recruiting more members to join the Roux team to ride to end cancer.

Nathan and some of his new friends, celebrating their victory in front of the falls

Roux CSR Update

Welcome Home Jaramillo-Marquez Family
& June 3rd Fun Run 

Habitat for Humanity  Habitat for Humanity
Before (September 2016) and After (June 2017) 

On June 1st, 2017, the Jaramillo-Marquez family was welcomed into their new home in Bellport, New York for the first time. The day was a a milestone not only for the Jaramillo-Marquez family, but for Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk (HFHS), marking their 180th house built since 1988.

William, Diana, and their five children were greeted by Les Scheinfeld, Director of Development at HFHS, the home was blessed by Pastor Joel Perez, and Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine offered the family a warm welcome to their new community. Many members of the Habitat Suffolk team, partners, and sponsors attended to show their support. Roux Associates’ New York office had a hand at building William and Diana’s new home in September of last year, installing drywall in the upstairs bedrooms.

The Jaramillo-Marquez family previously lived in a two-bedroom apartment. Upon receiving their new house keys for the first time, William and Diana expressed their gratitude for everyone who came out to help build their new home, thanking every participant for making their dreams come true.

Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk
William Jaramillo-Marquez holds up the keys to his new home alongside his family, Ed Romaine, Pastor Joel Perez, and members of HFHS and the Island Outreach Foundation 

Roux Associates

Saturday, June 3rd In continuing our CSR efforts, Roux’s Logan Township, New Jersey office is participating in a Fun Run, racing to stock Loaves and Fishes food pantry shelves. Loaves and Fishes was started in 2001, and has since grown into a vital endeavor serving more than 12,000 individuals each year, providing three nutritious meals a day for every member of a family for more than one week. Click here for more information and registration.

CSR Spotlight: Coastal Steward Long Island

By Melissa Nau

By now, you’ve probably heard of the term CSR, or Corporate Social Responsibly. And I’m sure you’ve heard about a corporation donating money to a charitable organization via some form of media. While Roux Associates does take part in donating and raising money for charities, it’s important to remember that those aren’t the only ways you can lend a hand to a non-profit. My recent CSR experience led me to supporting the efforts of Coastal Steward Long Island (CSLI), a non-profit local to Roux’s headquarters, whose goals include promoting marine education, preserving our beaches, and restoring shellfish populations. Since CSLI has three programs, there’s a lot of room for Roux to help while ensuring we’re not doing the same task over and over. And for me personally, even beyond the three programs, I gained invaluable work experience through partnering with CSLI that would have never been possible without volunteering.

It seems obvious why companies support charitable organizations: it makes them look good. And on an individual basis: it makes you feel good. But there’s so much more to it than that. My personal CSLI mission covers three goals: to help the environment, other people, and the organization as a whole.

An environmental consulting firm supporting an environmental conservation group seems like a perfect fit—and it turned out to be my perfect fit too. I love the beach; I’ve lived ten minutes from one for my entire life. If I had never heard of CSLI, I would have undoubtedly gone to the beach every weekend this summer anyway, so it’s doubly motivating and rewarding to be spending time in the setting I love while working to protect it. When I see a piece of trash on a beach, my first instinct would always be to pick it up. Now, I’ve applied that impulse to a cause, all while soaking up the sun and still making time to relax in a setting I’m proud to call home.

Networking has been a huge part of my experience, whether I’m telling random beachgoers about today’s cleanup, promoting the organization online, or getting friends and colleagues directly involved. CSLI allows for “helping others” by not only introducing them to a worthy cause that aligns with their personal interests, but by helping teachers and students engage in their education programs.

In cooperation with the Town of Brookhaven, CSLI offers marine education programs at the Marine Environmental Stewardship Center in Mount Sinai. The center—a homey, two-level marine haven right on the beach—contains fish tanks, touch-screen games, interactive displays, books, and high-tech microscopes. Through field trips to the center that Roux helps support, CSLI teaches many different programs including collecting and identifying organisms in the salt marsh, analyzing microscopic plankton (using the microscopes), and much more, covering a wide variety of age groups.

Coastal Steward Long IslandCoastal Steward Long Island

In promoting CSLI’s education programs, I made a point to tell some Long Island teachers about these exciting opportunities. Thanks to this networking, I successfully set up a school field trip to the center for the special education class in my high school—benefiting the students, the teachers, and the CSLI board members, who are always looking for chances to share their knowledge and resources. In my high school, marine biology was always the first elective to fill up because of the high volume of student interest, so it’s inspiring to know CSLI gives students an opportunity I always wanted but didn’t get to experience.

My networking experience also extends to the CSLI board. Two of my colleagues are members of the board: Nathan Epler, Ph.D. who works as a Principal Hydrogeologist at Roux, and Spencer Saraf, a recent Marine Toxicology graduate student at Stony Brook University and newest board member. Spencer described her experience on the board thus far as an extremely rewarding experience. She shared, “[Being a board member] has given me the opportunity to apply my marine science background and make steps towards restoring our oceans. I am looking forward to watching this program grow and develop, so that we can reach more of Long Island through education and restoration.”

Board member Ashly Carabetta is another Stony Brook graduate who I’ve developed a close working relationship with in coordinating events, press releases, flyers, and more. Having helped to establish an intelligent, tight-knit group of professionals in the field of science has not only allowed me to meet and work with great people, but it has created a larger network of like-minded individuals who share a zeal for the same cause. “I love being on the CSLI board. The field of marine conservation is driven by passionate people, so we’re willing to do a lot for very little,” said Ashly. “It feels good to be a part of a greater good. And for someone like me who is just starting out in her career, it’s nice to know my voice will be heard and that I’m making a difference.”

Coastal Steward Long Island
Some of CSLI’s board members, including Nathan Epler (second from right)
and Ashly Carabetta (third from right)

Unbeknownst to me, this CSR effort also taught me about the art of negotiation and allowed me to be part of rebranding the organization. After much required communication and collaboration between veteran and new team members, we collectively decided to rebrand the CSLI name, logo, and website. As a young professional in marketing, being included in the rebranding dialogue was alluring, knowing my opinions played a part in the final decision. This was great practice for any type of business meeting or lunch: discussing possibilities, sharing new ideas, and controlling the dialogue to stay focused and give all proposals a fighting chance. It was intriguing to witness the complete overhaul of the brand from a marketing perspective—there’s a multitude of factors to consider, which I’ll now keep in mind moving forward in developing my own career’s brand.

On top of cleaning beaches, helping others network, setting up field trips, and taking part in the rebranding efforts, my favorite part of the CSLI experience was experimenting with new platforms of work. I was challenged to develop my graphic design skills in creating posters for events like CSLI’s Earth Day Beach Cleanup and for showcasing their education programs, which is not one of my usual work tasks. In addition, I assisted in restructuring, revamping, and leading the team in creating a new website. While I’ve had years of web development experience under my belt, I never thought I would have the opportunity to start fresh while utilizing my previous experience. I was entrusted to create new content, speak with technical support personnel, continue to preserve branding consistency and appealing design, all while publishing the site within a narrow time frame. Aiding in the creation of the CSLI website in just a few weeks is something I never thought was possible. The experience I gained while making a functional site that advertises a great cause is truly invaluable, and never would have been possible without volunteering.

It’s essential to realize that donating time is one of the most valued things to a non-profit organization, which nearly all of us can do. If you think of charity and picture spooning food onto a plate in a soup kitchen, jump on Google and see what types of volunteering opportunities are in your area. There are tons of organizations out there—the trick is just finding one that means something to you. Regardless of whether your job is directly involved in your charitable activities, you could still build solid business relationships and gain unique work experiences that satisfy both your interests and your resume. Volunteering for a charitable organization (aka engaging in Corporate Social Responsibility) was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my past year at Roux, and I look forward to my continued involvement with Coastal Steward Long Island for years to come.

If you’d like to learn more and help support this organization, click the links to read about CSLI, their marine education programs, and their upcoming beach cleanup with Fabien Cousteau this Saturday (May 20, 2017). We’d love to see you there!

A Guide to Giving Thanks in the Workplace

By Melissa Nau

It’s just about that time again! Before you embark on your careful journey of gluttony, deep regret, and hibernation via turkey, stuffing, and gravy, let’s take a second to say thanks at work. Now you may be thinking “Thanks? But I didn’t get a raise yet!” or “How could this holiday apply to my job?” or “I don’t even have a job!”…so I should probably elaborate before you take an early vacation.

How could I apply Thanksgiving and the holiday season to my job?

The answer is three letters long: CSR. If you have no idea what that stands for, now is the perfect opportunity for you to not only find out, but introduce those letters to your workplace.

CSR stands for Corporate Social Responsibility. Simply put, the term refers to your business’ responsibility to give back to the community, whether it’s on a national or local scale. During this time of year, it’s probably most common for your workplace to have a food drive for those in need during the holidays. If your job didn’t host a Thanksgiving food drive, you can propose one for next year, suggest holding a drive for next month’s holidays, or gather some people to donate their time to a food bank. As we venture deeper into the frigid winter months, holding a coat drive is another common yet caring CSR idea. Getting your job involved in charitable activities not only gets your place of work noticed, but it gets you noticed, shows initiative, and effectively reaches “above and beyond” your employer’s expectations.

Here at Roux, CSR is ingrained in our company and has become a large part of our sense of community. We donate our time and finances to organizations like Habitat for Humanity where we participate in “Build Days,” we host a fundraiser each year for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and we assist Coastal Steward in their beach cleanups and in furthering marine education. We donate to many more charitable groups as well, primarily those dedicated to environmental conservation and medical research.

Again, if your company does not offer a CSR program, now’s your chance to make it happen. You could start small with a food drive and then begin searching for credible, relevant charities (for example, it makes sense that Roux, an environmental firm, aligns our interests with environmental conservation groups like Pure Earth). Remember that this also includes charitable athletic events, which could allow you to pick something you love: there’s Bike MS, tons of runs and walks to benefit different charities, and Roux even participates in Courageous Sailing, a summer sailing program. If you find a charity or an event you think a lot of people at your job will be passionate about, it’s likely that your CSR proposal will be approved and up and running before you know it.

If your company does offer CSR, get out there! It will get you noticed and allow you to get to know your coworkers in an informal setting. If your company has a CSR committee and you have a bit of free time to donate, why not join? An opportunity like this could easily be looked at as a leadership position. Taking on any type of work-related responsibility could grant you more responsibilities within your job itself, which could lead to promotions or raises. You could even add your CSR position and/or charity work to your resume (if you have room, of course)!

I don’t have a job…what about me?

If you’re a student or do not yet have a full time job, you can of course look into doing charitable work in your free time. This could be a great networking tool, especially if you find a charity that shares the interests of your ideal career. If you’re actively searching for a job now, however, saying “thank you” is actually one of the easiest ways to get ahead of your competitors.

After you leave an interview, write your interviewer a thank you note. It’s probably the easiest thing you can do to further your chances of getting the job. This is something that never occurred to me until a recruiter instructed me to do it, but it makes perfect sense. You most likely have your interviewer’s email address; if you’re going through a recruiter, you can contact them and ask for it or see if they can forward along your message. The best part is, this “thank you” should be short and sweet, so there’s no need to sweat it:

Dear [so and so],

Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to come in and speak with you regarding the [job] position. 

 It was a pleasure meeting you, hearing about the company in-depth, and learning about your personal experience. I would love to learn more about what goes into [job field, e.g. environmental consulting] and apply my [insert skills here] skills to this position. 

 If you need anything further, please don’t hesitate to ask. I look forward to hearing from you soon. 

 Best regards,

 [You]

That’s about as long as it should possibly be. Literally two sentences would suffice with the common themes of “thank you” and “I look forward to hearing from you.”

And why does this matter? If the person you just interviewed with met you and someone else, and you both hit it out of the park, how will they decide who to pursue further? You may both have gone to ivy league schools, fed orphans in a soup kitchen, and published eight research papers, but if only one of you said “thank you,” there’s an undeniable winner.

Overall, whether you’re working hard at your job or working just as hard in your quest to find one, take this time to relax. Deal with your relatives to the best of your ability. No matter how annoying they get, make sure you say “thank you” at the end of the day, and try to apply those words to your job or your job search.

Happy holidays from everyone at Roux!

Upcoming Roux Events: September 2016

Habitat for Humanity Build Day
Saturday, September 24 in Bellport, NY

Roux will be sponsoring a Build Day for Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk County. Since 1988, Habitat Suffolk has empowered hundreds of families to achieve their dreams of homeownership through their affordable homeownership program. Habitat Suffolk’s goal is to build an average of 10-12 houses annually, building for as long as needed to make sure every family in Suffolk County has a simple, decent, and affordable place to live and call home. Roux volunteers from our Islandia, New York office will be participating in this event, and all are welcome to attend. Click here to join us and learn more about the cause.

Habitat for Humanity Suffolk
Some of Roux’s volunteers at a past Habitat for Humanity Build Day

Bike MS: New Jersey City to Shore Ride 2016
Saturday, September 24 – Sunday, September 25 in Cherry Hill, NJ
Roux’s New Jersey office will pedal toward a world free of MS in this year’s City to Shore Ride. The Bike MS series is the largest fundraising bike event in the world. This two-day ride features route options for all cycling abilities from 25-180 miles, taking riders through the flat terrain and back roads of South Jersey to the blueberry fields of Hammonton. The 7,000 participants will end up in Ocean City, NJ welcomed by cheering volunteers. Click here to register for the event and learn more about Bike MS.

csr-bike-ms