“At a time this community needed the most help, you stepped up to help the most.”
Those were the words of John Dias, United Way of St. Charles Executive Director, to the assembled crowd on hand at Shell Norco last week. Hearing them were the site’s All-Star givers, the distinction Shell bestows upon those who donated throughout the business’ annual charity drive.
And topping it all off at the site’s joint Victory Celebration event with United Way was a check presentation to UWSC. Shell Norco raised a whopping sum of $3 million to donate to non-profit organizations, with more than $1.8 million of that sum directly going to United Way of St. Charles. The total sum donated was a new record for Shell Norco, and as Dias noted, it came in a year the local community has had to rebuild itself after Hurricane Ida – and at a time where countless donors themselves had their own difficult personal situations to address.
“There’s the phrase that ‘it’s darkest before the dawn,’ and there were some dark days last year,” said Dias. “We have a staff of five, and three of our five lost their homes. We had no office and we were fielding calls from people who had loved ones in hospice care, begging us for ice or a fan because the hospice employees couldn’t get there.
“That was the darkness. But boy, you, Shell, you were the dawn.”
One All-Star donor, Doug Skarke of Shell, said the sight of so many people coming together to help each other following the storm was inspirational and part of what spurred him into action. Skarke hails from Terrebonne Parish, which like St. Charles Parish was hit hard by Ida.
“After the hurricane, after COVID … people were in their time of need,” Skarke said. “You’re seeing people, some fortunate, some not as much after the storm … even those who were fortunate still have their own struggles to take care of. You see people who didn’t have home insurance … to be able to help pay some house bills, to provide a little gas, a little water, that can go a long way.”
Tammy Little, Shell Norco General Manager, said expectations were modest for this year’s campaign because of the difficulties employees were suffering through. Those expectations were shattered despite the most significant impact by a storm upon the facility.
“We were worried we weren’t going to get as many people participating as normal because of the situation,” Little said. “I think what comes through in all of this is the heart and caring commitment there is to our local community … I see it with my own eyes every day, and to see how our employees really dug deep when people needed it the most, I couldn’t be more proud and thankful that they answered the call. They care about each other and this community.”