Engineering Corporate Citizenship

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The VAA Plymouth office hosted Community Caring Campaign (CCC), a range of events and volunteer opportunities for employees over the course of two weeks. Championed by VAA’s Wellness and Outreach committee, the CCC raised nearly $50,000 along with providing supplies to those in need.

In line with the firm’s commitment to community, the CCC accepted pledges and volunteer time to support three selected local organizations:

Boys & Girls Club of the Twin Cities
Enables all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.

Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners (IOCP)
Partnering with VAA for the past decade, IOCP helps families living in eight Twin Cities western suburbs overcome barriers, believe in themselves and soar to new heights.

Second Harvest Heartland (SHH)
Partnering with VAA for the past decade, SHH is a local food shelf that leads through innovation, finding creative solutions to connect the full resources.

VAA supports SHH through monetary donations and participation in Canstruction, an event featuring giant structures made entirely out of canned food. Structures are built and displayed as public art exhibits until the food is donated to local food banks like SHH. In Minnesota, this year’s annual competition is held September 15 – 17 in the Rotunda of the Mall of America.

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Twenty-six VAA employees, friends and family participated in the 2018 Warrior Dash – a 5K race that raises funds for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Taking place in Le Sueur, MN, the race included 12 obstacles representing earth, air, fire and water. The VAA sponsored team raised over $1,800, contributing to the overall total of $14.8 million donated to date.

Warrior Dash events are held across the nation. Check the website for upcoming races near you.

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Echoing VAA’s overall outreach efforts, the Sioux Falls office recently volunteered to give back to their South Dakota community. The entire office participated in serving at The Banquet, the local meal center. Arriving at 6:00am, the VAA team helped serve breakfast to 262 people in need (including 24 children).

“The eagerness of our Sioux Falls employees to take part in the VAA Community Outreach Program is truly remarkable,” said Shawn Vanhove, manager of the VAA Sioux Falls office. “Finding ways to give back to the local community is something we take pride in as a company – it is great to see this mentality being carried on in our new office location.”

Operating in Sioux Falls, South Dakota for over 30 years, The Banquet’s mission is nourishing the community. All meals provided by the center are volunteer-based, meaning they are “paid for, prepared by, and served by volunteer groups who come from Sioux Falls and the surrounding area.” Learn more about the organization and how to volunteer on
The Banquet website.


Thirteen VAA employees volunteered in South St. Paul with Habitat for Humanity (Habitat). With a range of construction skill levels, the team was divided into groups to work on various aspects of the build. One larger group of employees framed and nailed sheathing (plywood attached to studs) in the garage and installed the scaffolding for the garage roof. A smaller group framed and almost completely installed a back porch.

Crystal Hoen, a VAA outreach participant and first-time Habitat volunteer, said the build was valuable service and team building. “It’s a totally different experience building a garage with your office coworkers. It was fun to see different strengths come together to get the job done. The build gave us an opportunity to see a design come together in the field, work with VAA people outside our usual teams and help a family in need.”

Locally, Habitat helps low income families in the Twin Cities community through programs like Habitat Homebuilding, A Brush with Kindness and Family Support Services. The organization as a whole operates worldwide, dedicated to empowering families by helping them “acquire the access, skills and financial education necessary for them to be successful homeowners.” Learn more about the organizations work or volunteering on the Twin Cities Habitat website.


Every month should be a safe month. But in June, the National Safety Council (NSC) gives a safety shout out to reducing injury or death in areas in which we spend the most time - on the road, at home and work. As part of the month’s activities, NSC provides free educational materials and articles associated with a weekly theme.

Aligning with the message of “Falls Week,” VAA continues to offer its employees OSHA 10 training. Almost 70% of the firm has completed the OSHA 10 training course since the inception of the VAA Safety Program in 2015. The in-house sessions teach individuals to recognize hazards and protect themselves from injuries in the workplace. At VAA, the focus is on jobsite hazards and the conduct expected from employees visiting these locations to promote safety.

“Our priority is the health of our employees,” said Program Safety Manager, David Olheiser, PE. “As a company, we offer individuals training to instill confidence and comfort when on site. The value is in being aware - from using fall protection to recognizing confined space constraints and electrical hazards to OSHA rules and compliance.”

Additionally, VAA recognizes the value of safety and ergonomic health in the office. A pervasive improvement to office tools began in 2016, including availability of converting sitting-to-stand-up desks and continued tweaks to lighting, seating, work surfaces, etc. “There is a balance that has to take place to ensure we’re using resources effectively,” noted VAA’s IT/Facilities Manager, Nat Schmidt. “That said, we’re always watching for proven methods and recommendation from employees and vendors on what we can do to enhance employee health while working.”

Does your firm offer a Safety Program? Visit the NSC website to learn more about safety and how to start your own program.

Fall Safety & Additional Safety Resources: