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Inside WEX

Building community while fostering sustainability

June 2, 2022

Headquartered in Portland, Maine, WEX has the unique privilege of being situated along the beautiful shores of Casco Bay with dozens of islands accessible by boat. One of the smaller islands is now home to Rippleffect’s educational eco-campus that promotes youth development and leadership through adventure, healthy communities, and living sustainably.

WEX and Rippleffect partner for Cow Island clean-up

WEXers arriving on Cow Island for a day of volunteering and team building

WEXers arriving on Cow Island for a day of volunteering

Building a healthy, resilient community through employee volunteerism

Covering twenty-six acres of preserved land, Cow Island is the ideal location for a day of WEX volunteering and team-building. “WEXers have enjoyed the opportunity in years past to do spring clean-up and help Rippleffect prepare for the kids’ summer programs,” said Peg Watson, senior vice president of global marketing at WEX. “Today is particularly meaningful for us as it’s the first time since March of 2020 that we’ve been able to gather as a team- – and to do so for such a great cause adds a special element to the day.”

WEXers arriving on Cow Island for a day of volunteering and team building

WEXers putting up a tent for future campers

Rippleffect’s mission: Building confidence and healthy relationships

As a nonprofit, Rippleffect believes that hands-on education in an outdoor classroom is fundamental to the healthy development of kids and communities. “Our students build confidence and relationships, develop leadership skills, and get to appreciate the outdoors through exploration,” said Adam Sheppard, executive director of Rippleffect. “We help youth develop the balance of a healthy mind, body, and spirit by connecting them to the world around them.”

WEX had a similar goal with the spring clean-up activity today. “Our group of 24 marketing employees who volunteered today were excited to be able to get out there in our community and do some work to better our surroundings,” explains Jason Paquette, WEX marketing manager, and organizer of today’s WEX/Rippleffect event. “Today we rolled up our collective sleeves and cleared pathways, clipped branches, and cleaned buildings in preparation for the kids coming for Rippleffect’s summer programs.”

WEXers arriving on Cow Island for a day of volunteering and team building

WEXers teambuilding on Cow Island

Gathering employees for a volunteer day to re-energize and give back to the community

The day out on Cow Island included clean-up in the morning, followed by lunch, then time to explore the island before the team-building exercise organized by Rippleffect in the afternoon. “We’re so excited to be out here on Cow Island today with Rippleffect, doing hands-on work for this wonderful organization and just being together as a team. It means a lot to me that WEX provides us with these volunteer opportunities and the time to take part in them. There’s a group of middle-schoolers out here today — seeing them experience the benefits of this program really drives home the importance of Rippleffect’s mission, and we’re so proud as WEXers to support that,” said Rebecca Blaesing, art director at WEX.

WEXers arriving on Cow Island for a day of volunteering and team building

WEXers Chad Creelman, Sue Nappi, Peggy Watson, and Erica Plasse

Volunteering for a nonprofit leader in experiential education and recreation

Rippleffect, serving over 3,500 youth and adults each year, is a northeast leader in outdoor adventure and experiential education. The exploration of the Cow Island wilderness and surrounding Casco Bay waters make it an ideal place for community development and consensus-building in an outdoor classroom.

The seasonal staff of 30 brings expertise in leadership training and adventure recreation to the greater community. From youth hands-on recreational programs to adult leadership building experiences, the specially trained guides provide instruction and adventure in a beautiful setting on Casco Bay.

WEXers arriving on Cow Island for a day of volunteering and team building

The day started blustery and then turned to all sun and warmth

Aligning core values of diversity and inclusion and fostering culture for employees

There is alignment between Rippleffect’s mission of building healthy kids and diverse communities and WEX’s core values of inclusion and community. An awareness of diversity in both the environment and the community is foundational to Rippleffect programming.

Similarly, WEX strives to achieve a fully inclusive workplace that unifies around celebrating diversity. Creating a unifying culture that emphasizes a sense of belonging, and provides equal access, opportunities, and treatment for all employees is foundational to WEX’s business philosophy. Building an inclusive culture and prioritizing collaborative relationships fosters an atmosphere where employees are motivated to contribute to and volunteer in the communities in which they live and work.

WEXers arriving on Cow Island for a day of volunteering and team building

WEXer Matt Thayer bundled up for the chilly ride out

Hilary Rapkin, chief legal officer at WEX, explains the business philosophy behind these core values: “WEX’s diversely experienced executive team, and our over 5,700 employees in 16 countries, emphasize for us the value of the many different voices we are so fortunate to have at the table. Our focus on inclusion creates an environment where collaborative community becomes endemic to who we are.”

When there is an opportunity to contribute to the success of those in its surrounding community, WEX strives to help those with fewer resources and encourages employee volunteerism as one avenue for cultivating those relationships.

WEXers arriving on Cow Island for a day of volunteering and team building

WEXers solving a picture puzzle

A new ESG vision in which to live, work and thrive

WEX embraces its role as a steward of the communities where it does business, with a focus on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). WEX recently launched a new ESG vision to provide greater disclosure and transparency for its stakeholders, including employees, customers, investors, and others in WEX’s sphere of influence.

Developing a culture of transparency and authenticity is central to WEX’s vision of cultivating a workforce that can adapt to rapid change. Committed to talent development, WEX is building a diverse and collaborative global environment for all employees to work, live, and thrive.

WEXers arriving on Cow Island for a day of volunteering and team building

WEXers Rebecca Blaesing, Patrick Nannery, and Jason Paquette posing with Bessie

Social responsibility and cultivating community

To attract and retain the best talent, WEX understands the importance of the health of its surrounding communities. By participating as a responsible corporate citizen, WEX is supporting the health and sustainability of local economies.

When WEX contributes to the success of nonprofits like Rippleffect, it is helping to build a healthy, vibrant community to live and work. “WEX has a longstanding tradition of giving back to the places in which we live and work. Our partnership with Rippleffect is just one example of the ways we cultivate and care for our surrounding communities,” said Rapkin.

WEXers arriving on Cow Island for a day of volunteering and team building

WEXer Lance Taylor on the ride out

Corporate volunteerism and philanthropy lead to more vibrant communities

A belief in the relationship between economic, environmental, and social issues is increasingly important to the long-term success of any business. WEX understands that caring for the communities in which its employees live and work is important to attracting the best talent.

“Our volunteerism and philanthropic actions, including the WEX Compassion Fund and our Month of Caring initiative, are part in parcel of a larger mission to support the local communities in which we operate,” Rapkin explained. This is described in detail in the WEX Inaugural 2020 ESG Report.  “While our business has always been aligned with corporate and social responsibility, WEX’s commitment to ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) reflects the company’s focus on continuous improvement as we strive to become an even more sustainable and resilient business.”

WEXers arriving on Cow Island for a day of volunteering and team building

WEXers Jason Paquette, Megan Cullity, Katherine Tinsley, and Patrick Nannery

A natural synergy for sustainability and resiliency and a shared vision for community

By bringing their shared vision together, Rippleffect and WEX are engaging to build a stronger community that values hard work and fun. There is a synergy between the corporation and the nonprofit, making them a perfect pair for building sustainability and resiliency.

Rippleffect’s vision of a Maine community where youth and adults are engaged, healthy in mind, body, and spirit, and sensitive to diversity in their social and natural environment, is perfectly aligned with all that WEX values.

In the words of executive director Sheppard, “Rippleffect’s hands-on education in outdoor classrooms is fundamental to the healthy development of citizens and communities. By exploring Cow Island and paddling the waters of Caso Bay, both students and adults build confidence, make friends, and enjoy the outdoors. What could be better for the community than that?”

WEX employees, volunteering at Cow Island today helped Rippleffect and Sheppard continue to offer that opportunity to hundreds of Maine children every summer.

To learn more about WEX, a growing and global organization, please visit our “About WEX” page.

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