June 21, 2019
Editor's note: This story is part of our “50 Stories of People Helping People" series. As we celebrate Penske's 50th anniversary in 2019, we are spotlighting associates every Friday who are making a difference in their communities.
<p><a href="https://www.gopenske.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer">Penske</a> associates in Minneapolis, Minnesota, took part in a district-wide initiative recently. The mission? To raise Earth Day awareness in the community and support Penske's environmental efforts.</p><p>In addition to working as an assistant district administrator at Penske's Roseville, Minnesota, location, Maggie Nelson also serves as the chairperson for the district's newly formed community engagement group.</p><p>The group consists of 11 Penske associates from across the Twin Cities, all of whom work in different departments, such as <a href="https://www.pensketruckleasing.com/contract-maintenance/" rel="noopener noreferrer">maintenance</a>, <a href="https://www.pensketruckleasing.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer">sales</a>, <a href="https://www.pensketruckrental.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer">rental</a> and finance.</p><p>“Employees will come to each of us with different ideas of how we can get involved in the community," said Nelson. “Up to this point, we've tried to organize one event per month."</p><p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image"><img class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a66b2eae0fa7389214b1711acb27b88e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" id="7edc7" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTk5NDUyNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjM1MjQ4MH0.yX5AUONHu_Pb-mD5Bm4HzrEMKww8meh_0u5AVUVq2o0/img.jpg?width=980"/><small class="image-media media-caption" placeholder="Add Photo Caption...">Pictured is Maggie Nelson (left) with her friend.</small></p><p>In April, the team had an idea they really wanted to try. Someone approached Nelson and asked if they could do something pertaining to Earth Day.</p><p>The idea instantly won over the team, and they decided to brainstorm what they could do. Many different activities were discussed as to how the team could help the environment, but one that stood out was an idea Nelson thought would be a good initiative.</p><p>“I reached out to Penske's environmental compliance department and asked for information on how the company drives efficiency and <a href="https://www.gopenske.com/our-company/sustainability/">sustainability</a> for our customers," she said. “The response I got back was amazing. I was not aware of the kind of impact we had."</p><p>“One of the things people may not know about Penske is that we recycle over a million gallons of used oil every year," said Chris Hawk, Penske's senior environmental compliance engineer.</p><p>Hawk and Mike Costanza, Penske's director of environmental services, informed Nelson of Penske's environmental efforts – information Nelson could use to assemble collateral.</p><p>Once she had gathered all of the facts and figures, Nelson was ready to get to work.</p><p>“My team and I created flyers with an infographic to hang in our lobbies for customers to see, as well as in the shops and breakrooms for employees to look at," she said. “Our plan was to promote the entire month of April, leading into Earth Day on April 26."</p><p>“The infographic served as a great vehicle to show what we're doing as a company to help the environment, which is where everyone calls home. I had a couple customers tell me they didn't know Penske recycled used oil and all the ways they saved energy."</p><p>The newfound knowledge across the workplace sparked a great deal of interest among associates to attend the city's Earth Day celebration, organized by the Minneapolis Parks and Rec Board, and partake in the festivities that promoted ways to work toward a cleaner planet.</p><p>“We had a blast at the event, and hope that next year we can play a part in spreading the word about Penske's environmental efforts," said Nelson. “Because when we protect the environment, we all benefit."</p><p><strong>Penske's Green Efforts</strong></p><p>Penske has been a long-time participant in the EPA's SmartWay Transportation partnership, Green Power partnership and WasteWise program.</p><p>Since 2004, SmartWay Partners have avoided emitting more than 103 million tons of air pollutants (NOx, PM, and CO2) contributing to cleaner air and healthier citizens, while saving more than 215.4 million barrels of oil and $29.7 billion in fuel costs – equivalent to eliminating the annual energy use of over 14 million homes. More information on SmartWay: <a href="http://www.epa.gov/smartway/" rel="noopener noreferrer">www.epa.gov/smartway/</a>.</p><p><em>By Chris Abruzzo</em></p></div>
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October 05, 2018
<p>Over the years, the elements and normal wear and tear, twin terrors to an aging building, have sought to claim the local landmark. It has endured thanks to the city, which owns it, and the caretakers and scores of volunteers who tend to the Pagoda and the 10 acres of land which surrounds it.</p><p>On a recent Saturday morning, a group of <a href="https://www.gopenske.com/">Penske</a> associates, family and friends collected about 1,600 pounds of trash and debris strewn across the Pagoda’s vast footprint.</p><p>SAARA – Social Activities for the Associates of the Reading Area – co-sponsored the cleanup event with Penske’s Environmental Services Department to offer an opportunity for associates to give back to the community.</p><p><img class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9c2cd7652288ff5387e8d76dedae456b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" id="32772" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTEyODYzOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzODE5MDUwOX0.Rrk7Oguut73oOB6oOHmXF17kZXfVe8SpiHUk_5gyWb8/img.jpg?width=980"/></p><p>The city of Reading provided trash bags, gloves and pickers for the group of 31 volunteers, made up of associates, family and friends.</p><p>The iconic 7-story, Japanese-style building, located on top of Mt. Penn, has served as a touchstone for residents and transplants returning to the city for a visit. For many, the Pagoda is home.</p><p>“The Pagoda is a landmark that provides context to the history of the city,” said Christopher Hawk, senior environmental compliance engineer with Penske’s Environmental Services department. “Preserving the Pagoda preserves the fabric of the city.”</p><p><strong>Witness to History</strong></p><p>When the Pagoda was completed in <a href="https://www.onthisday.com/events/date/1908">1908</a>, Theodore Roosevelt was president, Henry Ford produced the first Model T and the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series.</p><p>Initially, the building was intended to be a hotel, but without a liquor license, it remained a topic of conversation until 1911 when it was sold to the city for $1. Today, the Foundation for the Reading Pagoda manages the building.</p><p>“It has been around for so long and for so many generations that people don’t remember the mountain without having the Pagoda on it,” said Cindy L. Kauffman, who along with her husband Scott, are caretakers for the Pagoda. “It’s that beacon that draws people to the area and lets them know they are home.”</p><p>Some of the interesting facts about the Pagoda include:</p><ul class="ee-ul"> <li>In addition to its seven stories, the Pagoda is 28 feet wide, 50 feet long and stands some 620 feet above the city and 886 feet above sea level. The building is connected to the mountainside with 16 tons of bolts.</li> <li>The bell on the top floor was cast in Japan in 1739. It arrived in Reading in 1907, traveling via the Suez Canal to New York Harbor and finally by rail.</li> <li>It is the only Pagoda in the world with a fireplace and chimney.</li> <li>In the days before radio broadcasting, Morse Code flashed from the Pagoda’s lights to direct firemen, promote fundraising campaigns and provide the public with results of sporting events.</li> <li>Every year at 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve, the Pagoda’s lights flash to let children know that Santa is on his way.</li></ul><p>Like many historic places, the Pagoda came close to disappearing.</p><p>“There were numerous times in the history of the Pagoda that it was in bad shape, and there was talk about tearing it down,” Mrs. Kauffman said. “It has a lot of history and has always been a landmark.”</p><p><strong>Helping Hands</strong></p><p>Today, the Pagoda is also a family center, playing host to birthday parties, weddings as well as events for children. Keeping the grounds in the best shape possible is important for the Pagoda’s viability.</p><p>“The outside is very important to us because it is the first thing that people see when they come up and park. Unfortunately, we have some people who don’t understand that trash belongs in trash cans. We have animals on the mountain and they help to spread that stuff around,” Mrs. Kauffman said.</p><p>The conditions on the mountain also play a role.</p><p>“It is very windy up there. We get trash that is blown from other areas up in the mountain and it ends up at the Pagoda. It is not a pleasant sight to see a lot of trash at the landmark, so we work very hard,” she said. “It is a constant battle to try to keep it trash-free.”</p><p>Volunteers like the Penske group are so important to the fight.</p><p>This was the second beautification project for SAARA and the Environmental Services Department. Last year, a similar group worked to clean Riverfront Park, located across from Penske Truck Rental in Reading and a nearby playground.</p><p>Ironically, it was a chance visit by Hawk to the Pagoda, which gave birth to the cleanup initiative.</p><p>“There is no question how much Penske values and promotes giving back and contributing to charitable endeavors,” Hawk said. “Charitable efforts like a park cleanup has an immediate sense of individual contribution and 100 percent of the effort goes to that cause.”</p><p>Melissa Rodriguez, a security operations specialist, battled against flying bugs and litter as she and her family filled several bright orange bags in short order.</p><p><img class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="25f38c4ddd2dee0afe48f469c459bb4d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" id="6100c" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTEyODY0MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0OTE0NTA5OX0.5u8buFBUUK8ju_WU2wrryMwa7EXYO8z7BEEL9TUYYlo/img.jpg?width=980"/></p><p>“Having grown up in Reading, I feel an obligation to give back to the city,” said Rodriguez, who works in Penske’s security department. “I want to instill that in my children.”</p><p>Her children, Emma and Chase, love to come to the Pagoda, and Rodriguez said she wanted to give them an opportunity to help preserve it.</p><p>Shane Cloyd, a senior engineer, has hiked in the area near the Pagoda. The cleanup fell on the weekend of his first wedding anniversary, but Cloyd was more than happy to set aside some time to give back.</p><p>The first time he saw the Pagoda up close, it left him with a sense of awe for a building that seemed a little out of place yet perfect at the same time.</p><p>“I think it is important. We are losing so much growing space,” Cloyd said. “If everyone spent three hours a year volunteering like this, we could keep parks like this and green space in better shape.”</p><p>It is that feeling Mrs. Kauffman hopes will keep the Pagoda thriving for years to come.</p><p>“The more people we get to love this place, the more secure I feel about its future,” Kauffman said. “It takes everybody.”</p><p><em>By Bernie Mixon </em></p> </div>
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