Why We Give
By Kenny McRostie
Why do we help others? Why do we pass on our knowledge and experience? Why do we Give Back?
We do it because we are thankful; because we are blessed; because everyone benefits from generosity and shared knowledge. Let us be clear…2021 was a HARD year for everyone. Sure, some made it through unscathed, but everyone knows someone who suffered hard times. The world groaned in 2021, and our communities winced at each headline. Yet, people are amazingly resilient, and the CANA family was no exception.
In spite of the setbacks, 2021 was an amazing year of giving from the CANA family. Almost one-third of the company nominated and participated in initiatives that gave back to professional societies, veterans-focused non-profits, youth from elementary to college-age, local educational institutions, community service organizations, and most importantly, to the individuals within our local communities. Not only was participation at an all-time high, but the initiatives spanned four of the five CANA Foundation focus areas - advancing veterans support & activities, advancing health & wellness, advancing civic duty and education, and advancing environmental sustainment.
I am fortunate to be a part of a company that is more near a family than business. Sure, we work hard and earn a paycheck, but the real joy is when we have the opportunity to use our skills, our time, our resources, and our passions to pour into others and give back. When Rob and Liz started CANA back in 2008, they were driven by a purpose and a vision - to create an organization that was innovative and devoted to excellence, but also supportive of an environment where generosity would flourish and overcome the negativity and heartache that surrounds our world and our communities. That desire to do good, to see a smile on someone’s face when they receive an unexpected gift, or when they learn something new is why we work so hard. Giving back is our raison d’être.
Three initiatives stood out in 2021. Not because they gave the most money, nor because they impacted the most people, but because the CANA employees who led those initiatives gave from their heart and were compelled to share their gifts, talents, and passion with others.
The first initiative was led by Renee Carlucci, one of CANA’s principal operations research analysts. As one of the leaders of the Women in MORS (Military Operations Research Society) Community of Practice (COP), Renee wanted to do more for a community that seeks to recognize the contributions and challenges facing women in the OR field. Renee wanted to increase her capacity to showcase women in the OR community and, by doing so, give back to the community to which she has devoted so much of her professional career. Supported by Cherish Joostberns, CANA’s Resource Lead and one of CANA’s lead writers, Renee used time allocated through the Foundation to interview female OR trailblazers, gather professional development materials for future COP training, conduct COP-related analysis, and write and publish articles related to COP objectives. These efforts resulted in two published articles highlighting women in OR as well as developing and hosting an interactive panel at the 89th Virtual Military Operational Research Society (MORS) Conference. This Women in MORS Special Session on Effective Networking Strategies brought together a diverse group of women and men leaders and thinkers to share their successes and failures with a live audience. The impact was immediate and widespread.
The second initiative was nominated by Norm Reitter, CANA’s Chief Analytics Officer and Senior Vice President for Analytics Operations. An avid outdoorsman and fierce advocate of outdoor conservation, Norm recognized an opportunity to give back and educate the younger generation in his mountain community of Leadville, Colorado. His passion for mountain biking and the snow hatched the idea to educate local high school and college students on conservation awareness such as trail use and the impacts of recreational activities, as well as promote mountain biking for health and wellness. He brought together several other Leadville-based organizations – Cloud City Wheelers (a local non-profit), Cycles of Life (a local bike shop), Colorado Mountain College – Leadville, and Leadville High School – to help local students become more aware of outdoor resources close to their home, provide an introduction to different outdoor leadership opportunities, and introduce them to a new, sustainable, outdoor activity. What stands out about Norm’s initiative is how he shared his passion and experience with the students, realizing an obligation to ensure the next generation understands nature’s gifts and the need to preserve them. Through education and activity, Norm passed on a culture of health, wellness, and environmental sustainment.
The third and final initiative that stood out in 2021 belonged to Koa Beam, CANA’s immensely talented Lead Graphic Artist. Koa has been involved in the art and art education culture of his community for many years in local schools, community arts centers, and through showcasing his own personal work. Koa was presented with an opportunity with the Johnstown Area Heritage Association (JAHA) through a grant provided by National Geographic (NatGEO) Education to produce and publish an educational children's book that explores the laurel highlands of Pennsylvania and its rich history. The book was also intended to educate readers about some of the modern environmental issues of concern in that region. He was asked to lend his expertise on graphic design and publishing towards the project, but Koa saw a unique opportunity to take his involvement farther and give back to the Johnstown students and teachers working on the book. Over a period of eight months, Koa worked with students and teachers providing illustration, storyboarding, and layout tutorials both online and through an in-person workshop. Koa’s contributions were instrumental in bringing together the many facets of producing and publishing the book that will serve to educate and inform children and many others for years to come. His eagerness to pass on his knowledge and passion for art and for his community shone through in this initiative.
CANA Foundation is beaming with pride at the initiatives it has been able to support over the past year, through the selfless and dedicated people on the CANA team. They are the reason it is possible. The giving spirit is alive and well and amplifies the passion and excellence of the CANA family. We wish you a Happy New Year and hope that 2022 will bring many more opportunities to Give Back and impact our world for the better.