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Behind the Scenes with Karyn Williams

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I'm one of those IT geeks people call when something isn't working on your pc, or you have a question about a software program.  I'm a senior systems programmer at Duke Energy, where I've worked for 22 years. My typical day is spent answering "how-to" questions, fixing computer problems, and planning technology improvements for Energy Management and Process Controls. Basically, I keep the computers on for the guys who keep the lights on. 

When I first started working here, I was encouraged to volunteer. I've always felt the company valued me as a whole person who had interests other than my job description. I started as a United Way ambassador and later found plenty of opportunities to serve through the company's African-American Network and its projects. Our work has ranged from fixing-up senior centers, to sorting cans for food pantries, to distributing winter clothing for the annual Coats for Kids campaign. I've learned about people who have real needs, and that dollars only go so far. They need our time.

Some of the most rewarding work for me has been in the schools. Throughout the year our employees rotate spending 30 minutes a day with students who are struggling with reading in nearby schools. It makes my day to see my student's progress and know that I've contributed to making a difference.

While efforts to give back are year-round, the company shines a light on volunteering in May and June with our annual Global Service Event. In 2011, the event's 14th year, we estimate that 260 nonprofit groups benefitted from the approximately 2,700 employee, retiree, friend and family volunteers who worked about 14,000 hours across five states. And volunteerism extends well beyond the Global Service Event, with over 200,000 volunteer hours in 2011. Employees decide how to dedicate their time, and the projects are as diverse as our employee base. They include everything from building a playground at a shelter for domestic violence victims and their children to tackling repairs at an animal rescue center. We learned long ago that we can have an impact that goes far beyond the power we produce.

To find out more information about volunteering at some of the Indiana organizations featured in this story:

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