Aqua Gives Back with United Way

Volunteering is a key part of what makes Aqua employees who we are.

Recently, to get a head start on the season of giving, we partnered with United Way to embark on a company-wide charitable giving campaign.

United Way is an organization dedicated to advocating for the “health, education and financial stability of every person in every community.” Some Aqua employees have been involved with the United Way in the past, and that, partnered with their mission, made for the perfect organization for us to come together to create a campaign that would encourage employee teamwork and simultaneously help so many members of the communities across all eight of our states. 

“Aqua has had a long partnership with United Way for more than 30 years,” said Karen Carlson, our director of community affairs & corporate giving, who helped to execute the campaign. “Our CEO Chris Franklin wanted to have a centralized, company-wide employee campaign. He chaired the campaign this year and our CFO Dave Smeltzer will chair it next year.” 

This was our first time running a company-wide charitable initiative, and we were thrilled to see that our employees were eager to participate. Aqua employees across all eight states were split into two teams, the Aqua Avengers and the Water Warriors, and competed for the highest percentage of participation in giving to United Way. The winning team received an additional personal day off for 2018.

All in all, we raised $147,000 for United Way with the help of our outstanding employees. We’re so grateful for the generosity, time and effort that they put into making the campaign such a success. 

“It was a great team effort, and it provided an opportunity to better get to know our coworkers across Aqua’s eight states. Everyone pitched in and had great ideas,” Carlson said. “Many Aqua locations donated to the United Way in years past, but this was the first time we did so as a united front.”

We can’t wait to continue engaging our employees in meaningful community impact projects. Stay tuned to see where we make a difference next!

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Join us in saluting the veterans of Aqua

At Aqua, we feel very grateful that we employ so many veterans who bring their dedication, courage and spirit to our company. As Veterans Day approaches, we want to take some time to recognize and give a special thank you to some of the veterans who work within our Aqua family.

First recognized as Armistice Day in 1919 and eventually broadened to Veterans Day in 1954, the holiday serves as an opportunity to thank, celebrate and remember the individuals who have served and continue to serve in our nation’s armed forces. 

“It’s an honor to work alongside the veterans throughout Aqua’s workforce,” said Aqua CEO Chris Franklin. “I want to take this opportunity to personally thank each of the men and women at Aqua who have served, and to wish you a happy Veterans Day.”

We are thankful that these men and women are a part of our team. At Aqua, we will always strive to create opportunities for our veterans and continue to embrace and honor the incredible work they’ve done for our nation.  

“We have long recognized that hiring veterans and members of our military community brings exceptional strengths to the business, which is why we actively engage and recruit talent with military backgrounds,” said Satnaree Brandon, manager of talent acquisition. “Aqua’s core values of integrity, respect and (the pursuit of) excellence align with the training veterans receive while in the service, providing them with a strong foundation in leadership and an exceptional value system that supports and builds on these values when they join our team.”

“Aqua is making a tremendous effort to foster inclusion within our workforce to better reflect the diverse communities we serve,” added Franklin. “Aqua is partnering with veterans coalitions to engage, hire and support transitioning veterans to civilian life. The work ethic and camaraderie these service members bring to their teams is an invaluable asset to their fellow employees and our customers.”

We hope you enjoy meeting some of our Aqua employees who have bravely served our country and shared their stories with us. Thank you to all of our veterans, both within our Aqua family and in the communities we serve, for your hard work and bravery. We wish you and your families a very happy Veterans Day.

 

John Aulbach (center), President, Virginia (Virginia)

Military branch: United States Army - Infantry

Rank: Colonel

Years served: 1981–2011

Most interesting deployment/assignment:

My most interesting and demanding assignment and deployment was in 2005 to Iraq commanding a brigade military transition team embedded with an Iraqi light infantry brigade. While interesting, it was also challenging to execute a complex mission across language and cultural barriers.

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

As a veteran I am proud to have served and am grateful for the opportunities provided to me to develop within my chosen careers. Additionally, I have deep respect for veterans’ families who bear extreme hardships and am grateful for my wife and children who have been supportive of my profession.

How has being a veteran affected you professionally?

The ability to work in and lead large organizations built confidence in my own professional skill sets, as well as the ability to draw the maximum effort from each member of a team to accomplish a mission or assignment. My military experiences directly influenced my civilian career and the ability to be successful. 

 

Rickie Daniels, Facility Operator II (North Carolina)

Military branch: United States Marine Corps

Rank: Lance Corporal

Years served: Four years active duty

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

Most interesting deployment was with a Joint NATO exercise that took place in Norway in the winter. We had to take winter training for months beforehand. The Norwegian people I had the pleasure of meeting were fantastic hosts and very polite to the American troops.

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

I’m proud to have had the opportunity to serve in the Marine Corps and help safeguard the freedoms we have in the USA.

How has being a veteran affected you professionally?

Being in the military taught me respect and responsibility, which I put to use in my personal and professional life to this day because they serve me well. 

 

Stephen Dunnahoe, Corporate Development Coordinator (Texas)

Military branch: United States Coast Guard

Rank: Logistics E-4

Years served: Six years total (four years active, two years reserve), 1978–1984

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

A year at Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak Alaska and being able to visit the Aleutians.

How has being a veteran affected you professionally?

It has taught me fidelity, integrity, zeal, honor and obedience.  

 

Kirklyn Fields, Facility Operator II (North Carolina)

Military branch: United States Marine Corps

Rank: Sergeant

Years served: 13 Years with an Honorable Discharge

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

I am a Veteran of the Gulf War (Desert Shield and Desert Storm).

 

Johnny Gill, Utility/Inspector (Pennsylvania)

Military branch: United States Army (14 years), Air Force (17 years)

Rank: Technical Sergeant

Years served: 31

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

For one deployment, I was responsible for the utilities/liquid fuels. We built hospitals; we helped people. We also helped the Navy Seals get a base in Kuwait up and running. I’m grateful in knowing that what I did helped.

What it means to you to be a veteran:

I’m proud to be a veteran and proud to have served, and feel, especially with my troops, that I taught them what they needed to do - how to do their job and how to survive. 

Stacey Hajdak, Director, Marketing and Communications (Pennsylvania)

Military branch: United States Army

Rank: Major, Military Police Corps

Years served: 15 years (Reserve and Active Duty)

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

My absolute most memorable assignment was commanding a military police company during the first year of Operation Iraqi Freedom. My unit trained at Fort Dix, New Jersey for several months before deploying to Kuwait just ahead of the coalition’s invasion of Iraq. We eventually crossed the border into Iraq and lived and worked from some of Saddam Hussein’s palaces in Baghdad. Every day, there were new challenges in a very uncertain, austere environment. I am lucky to say we all came home safely after a yearlong deployment, in 2004.

How has being a veteran affected you professionally?

Soldiers are taught a simple leadership paradigm: BE, KNOW, DO. BE like the mentors who guided you; KNOW your profession better than anyone; and DO the right things – everyday. I try to apply these Army ideals to everything I do, including leading communications here at Aqua. 

Charles Meloche, Operator 1 (Indiana)

Military branch: United States Army Military Police

Rank: E-4 (Specialist 4)

Years served: Three years active duty and three years) reserve duty

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

I was stationed at Fort Gordon, Georgia for all three of my active duty years. My most interesting duty was military prisoner escort to places such as Fort Leavenworth KS (the big house) andFort Riley KS (Retraining Prison).

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

I come from a military family and I am very proud of my family’s military history and am proud to have done my part in serving this great nation. Veterans Day is special to me, but I also try to honor veterans all year round. 

Brent C. Reeh, CTX Area Manager (Texas)

Military branch: United States Air Force Reserves

Rank: Master Sergeant (E-7)

Years served: 21

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

Most interesting deployment was to NATO Air Base Aviano AFB, located in northeastern Italy.  

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

Although I spent more than 20 years in the armed service, I have a difficult time considering myself  a veteran - maybe it’s because I consider myself too young to be a veteran? The real veterans are those who didn’t return from the war. It’s about duty, honor, love of country, sacrifice and respect. I proudly served my country for what I was trained to do. 

Aaron Riedmann, Water Treatment Technician (Ohio)

Military branch: Navy

Rank: E-4

Years served: Four years

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

My most memorable deployment was to South America for humanitarian assistance. We went to Guatemala to help supply those in need of medical attention. We also built a new school and provided other resources for the locals.

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

It means everything for me to be a veteran. I still to this day believe joining the military was the best decision I ever made.   

How has being a veteran affected you professionally?

Being a veteran has made me a better employee/worker. Veterans are always on time, ready to put in the needed work, and able and willing to learn. 

Michael A. Stephens, Area Supervisor III (New Jersey)

Military branch: United States Air Force

Rank: Staff Sergeant E-5

Years served: Seven years

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

Osan Air Base, Osan Korea. I was an Environmental Support Specialist (water and wastewater treatment and operations)and I volunteered to perform as 57th CES Dorm Manager Osan Korea, Honor Guard Tyndall AFB Panama City, Fla. and 348th CES Career Counselor McGuire AFB, New Jersey.

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

I was quite honored to serve my country. The only way I knew to demonstrate how honored I was to be in the U.S. Air Force was to volunteer for additional duties.

Lawrence Weaver, Assistant Superintendent, Construction (Pennsylvania)

Military branch: United States Marine Corps

Rank: Sergeant

Years served: Six years

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

The question of what being a veteran means to me brought a flurry of emotions. Pride, to be able to stand up and defend this great country, which I grew up loving as part of  a family full of veterans. Sadness, as it makes me reflect upon the comrades who paid the ultimate sacrifice defending this great country. Uncertainty, in thinking did I do enough when I was there? I feel humbled to have had the opportunity to serve next to so many Marines who volunteered on their own accord to protect this great nation. Being a veteran, I’m honored to have had the opportunity to help protect those freedoms like so many others did before me.

How has being a veteran affected you professionally? 

Being in the Marines affected me in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I learned that you have the power to overcome adversity no matter how big or how small the obstacle. Everyone plays a role in success no matter the scope of their job. Perseverance is possible in any situation. The unofficial motto of the Marine Corps, Improvise, Adapt, Overcome, has served its “family” well and has given its “brothers and sisters” the tools to succeed. Stay calm under pressure and you will be able to handle whatever comes your way, and be clear of mind to understand what is going on and how to correct it. Learn from one another as everyone is an expert in something. Respect is earned, not demanded.

Jacob Tune, Facility Operator I (Texas)

Military branch: United States Army

Rank: E-1

Years served: Two and a half years

Most interesting deployment/assignment?

I did a 12-month tour at 348th Quartermaster Co., Camp Humphreys, South Korea, 1994–1995.

How has being a veteran affected you professionally?

I acquired the ability to adapt and overcome any obstacle.

Roger Tupps, Regional Supervisor (North Carolina)

Military branch: United States Air Force

Rank: Master Sergeant

Years served: 20 years

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

I’m proud to have served my country.

How has being a veteran affected you professionally?

I believe the military really helps with being able to deal with different situations that arise. It also teaches healthy work ethic.

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Create a Fire Escape Plan With These Easy Steps


This year marks the 95th anniversary of the National Fire Protection Association’s Fire Prevention Week. It's no secret that we care about safety here at Aqua, so it should come as no surprise we're also fans of fire prevention.

The safety of you and your family should always be a top priority, so in honor of the occasion, we want to help you create a fire escape plan (that you’ll hopefully never have to use). Follow these simple steps to ensure you’re prepared in the case of a fire—it’ll be more than worth your time in the long run.

Step 1: Draw a Map and Find Your Exits

 Whether at work or at home, it is essential to have a fire escape plan in mind. To better envision your plan, use a grid to draw out the rooms in your building or home and identify two exits in each room. You can click here to access a printable checklist and grid to help you draw out your fire escape plan. Click here for the grid and checklist in Spanish. 

Step 2: Make Sure Your Exits are Accessible

Not every room has two exit doors, which means that sometimes, your second exit will be a window. In the event of an actual fire, you don’t want to be held up clearing off your windowsill or struggling to open your window. Make sure you can easily execute your escape plan by opening paths to all exits and keeping window sills decluttered. If you live on the second floor or higher, you should consider keeping a fire escape ladder near your windows to ensure you can easily escape. 


Always locate two exits from every room in your home. (Image via NFPA)

Step 3: Choose an Outside Meeting Space Near Your Home

In the case of a fire, once you are outside of your home, you and your family will want a safe place to meet. Make sure everyone agrees on a meeting place with a clear identifier such as a tree, bush, stop sign or parking lot. The important thing is that the meeting place is a safe distance from your home and can be easily found. 

Step 4: Plan to Call 911

In the event of a real emergency, once you safely make it to the meeting place, call 911 to report the fire. (Do not call 911 if you are just practicing your escape plan—only call if there is a real emergency.) If you do not have a phone with you, ask to use a neighbor’s phone or locate a local business and ask to use theirs.

Step 5: Practice Your Plan 

Image via NFPA

Now that you have a preventative fire escape plan, it’s important to remember that the plan won’t do you much good if you can’t remember it in case of a real fire. That’s why it is important to practice your fire escape plan with your family twice a year.

We hope that this simple step-by-step tutorial will help you and your family create a fire escape plan. Since safety is always a priority at Aqua, we’d also like to thank the local fire departments who work tirelessly to keep our communities and neighbors safe across all eight of the states in which we operate.


Pictured above are some of the members of the Justin, Texas volunteer fire department. The department is made up of 25 volunteers who are dedicated to keeping the community safe. Aqua Texas was happy to donate and support them and their mission this past September. Thank you for your service, Justin Texas firefighters! 


Pictured here are Delaware County Councilman Dave White, District Attorney Jack Whelan, Delaware County Emergency Services Director Tim Boyce and Aqua Pennsylvania officials. We all gathered to celebrate our local fire departments on a nice day with the community. Thank you for your hard work, Pennsylvania firefighters!

If you are interested in learning more about Fire Prevention Week, visit the NFPA website

 

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A Note of Thanks to Our Water-ful Aqua Employees

This week, we celebrated Labor Day all across the nation.

As individuals, we owe a great deal to the people whose labor allows us to live our daily lives: the carpenters who build our homes, the farmers who grow the food we eat, the technicians that let us thrive in our digital world, and many more.

As a company, we owe everything to our employees: the people who work tirelessly to allow us to fulfill our mission of protecting and providing Earth’s most essential resource to our customers.

We have three core values here at Aqua: Integrity, respect and the pursuit of excellence. 

Integrity means that Aqua is a place of honesty, good character and trust. We care about each other, our customers and our mission of protecting and providing Earth’s most essential resource. 

 

Respect means that we are committed to each other, our customers, the community and the environment. We work at a company that respects our well-being, including respect for our time out of the office and with family.

 

The pursuit of excellence means that whether at home or at work, we seek growth and development opportunities and excel in safety and customer service. We work to uphold a successful company that maximizes shareholder value. 

As we begin to wrap up the poolside days, barbeques and beach weekends of summertime, we wanted to extend a note of thanks to our employees all across our eight states of service for their commitment to these values day in and day out.

Thank you to our hardworking crew members who work in the field to ensure water service for our customers, even during emergencies and irregular hours of the day. 

Thank you to our customer service representatives who work diligently to listen and respond to our customers’ questions and concerns on a daily basis.

Thank you to our teams who work across departments ranging from human resources to operations to keep the Aqua wheels in motion every day. 

This past Monday was not the only time that your efforts were appreciated—you are appreciated every single day.

 

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DIY Water Parks: Build a Backyard Aquatic Adventure

With Summer in full swing, it’s no surprise that the weather outside has been getting hot, hot, hot!

Instead of shelling out money, waiting in line, and dealing with the stresses of taking the family to a water park, we have another idea: bring the water park to you! By skipping the hassles of a busy water park and working together to set up these fun water games in the grass, you’ll have tons of fun as a family.

Read on for some easy and fun ways to transform your backyard into an amusement oasis for the kids —and the kids-at-heart!

Water Balloon Piñatas

 

Water balloons are a summer classic. Turn the hot weather staple into something new by hanging oversized water balloons from a tree branch or the monkey bars, then take turns breaking your water piñatas with a baseball bat. (Just make sure you clean up all the broken balloons once you’re done so any furry friends don’t accidentally eat them.)

For a little extra fun, award a popsicle prize that corresponds with the color of each balloon you break!

Pool Noodle Sprinklers

Image via Wikimedia Commons

It’s easy to transform a pool noodle—another classic summertime staple—into a refreshing sprinkler. Just poke holes into your pool noodle, plug the opening on one side and then attach the mouth of a garden hose into the other side. When you turn on the water, you’ll have a fun H2O gadget ready for any party. Read even more detailed instructions here.

Human-Sized Bubble-Maker

via GIPHY

Blowing bubbles and a warm summer breeze go together like peanut butter and jelly. These human-sized bubbles will put wonder and awe into the eyes of your guests.

All you need is a lot of bubble solution, a plastic kiddie pool and a hula hoop. Fill up the pool with the bubble solution, then have one of your guests stand inside the hula hoop inside the pool. When they pull up on the hula hoop, the bubble will envelope the person inside. This is a great way to add some whimsy to your backyard waterpark.

Slip ‘N-’ Slide

Photo via Flickr user Fred Rockwood

No backyard water park would be complete without a slip ‘n-’ slide. As it turns out, DIY slip ‘n-’ slides tend to be more durable than their storebought counterparts. Gather up heavy plastic sheeting, dish soap and stakes to secure the plastic to the ground. For full instructions on how to build a heavy-duty slip ‘n-’ slide that’ll be a hit all season, head here.

We hope these ideas have sparked your imagination and added some fun to your summer. Always remember to stay hydrated when you’re outdoors—even when you’re surrounded by water!

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