2021 Employee Ideas That Matter Alumni Busier Than Ever With Community-Oriented Projects

Grant Recipients Continue to Make a Meaningful Difference in Communities
Nov 3, 2022 2:00 PM ET

2021 Employee Ideas that Matter

The 2021 Employee Ideas that Matter grant winners inspired all of us at Sappi North America with their enthusiasm and dedication to their communities.

Even during the effects of an unprecedented pandemic, many of our employees took the time to apply for an EITM grant to make a difference in the lives of others. The competition was tough, but the 10 grant recipients represent a wide range of contributions by Sappi employees that really matter to each of their communities.

Congratulations to all the winners! We are proud that you have made a meaningful impact with your chosen organizations.

Kathie Gagnon: Creating a calming place for students

Kathie Gagnon, Senior Inside Sales Representative in South Portland, Maine, used her 2021 Employee Ideas that Matter grant of $1,500 to create a calming space for students at Windham Primary School who are struggling with anxiety.

“Because of the pandemic and the CDC guidelines, we began using our calming space materials in individual classrooms,” Kathie says. “Through this experience, we learned we could expand this model and add even more tools to our calming area for classrooms to ‘borrow’ and return for others to use. Students also talked with us about other tools they would use to help with anxiety.”

The Windham Eagle published a letter to the editor from Therese Bernier-Burns, a behavioral specialist at Windham Primary School, who thanked Sappi and Kathie for making the calming space possible.

“Sappi has done an outstanding job partnering with our community to help meet the needs of schools and learners,” Therese wrote in her letter. “I am grateful that Kathie reached out to me to ask about our needs. She and Sappi have created a wonderful school model that helps Windham Primary School and others across the country and in Canada.”

“Thank you, Sappi and Kathie,” she wrote. “Your efforts are noticed and appreciated!”

Laura Brosius: A Brighter outlook for women affected by cancer

Laura Brosius, Senior Manager, Strategic Partnerships, used her 2021 Employee Ideas that Matter grant of $5,000 to help fund the second edition of Brighter Magazine, a lifestyle publication that serves the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of all women affected by cancer.

“After being diagnosed with breast cancer and now going through radiation treatments, I have experienced firsthand the lack of printed resources for cancer patients,” Laura says.

According to Brighter Magazine, the moment a woman is diagnosed with cancer, the way she looks at everything changes.

“What once were simple pleasures become complicated,” the magazine’s website states. “Finding lifestyle information in one place that relates to today’s cancer survivor is a challenge. Skin care and beauty needs become quite different and specific to these amazing women. Relationship status often becomes difficult as they work to balance things such as school, work, family, and friends with treatment and medical appointments. These women are special, they have special needs, and that is the reason for Brighter.”

Rachel Kaul and Arbin Rajbanshi: Helping find balance for children

Rachel Kaul and Arbin Rajbanshi, Customer Technical Scientist and Research Scientist, Tech Center, used their 2021 Employee Ideas that Matter grant of $2,257 to build a balance and kinesthetic playground at the Little Dolphin School in Maine.

The project involved the creation of a new area in the playground for 3-year-olds, which is now designated for balance, proprioception, and kinesthetic awareness. Rachel and Arbin used their grant to buy and install balance beams.

The Little Dolphin School’s mission is to provide the highest-quality comprehensive childcare services for young children ages zero to 6, regardless of social or economic status. The school is dedicated to enhancing young children’s intellectual, social, emotional, physical, and creative development.

“We do this in a warm, nurturing, enriched environment,” states the school’s website. “Children learn and develop differently. Therefore, our curriculum sparks all the senses, allowing self-esteem to soar!”