This past October, SPE Cares held its Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE) volunteering event in San Antonio, Texas. Since its founding in 2015, each year the SPE Cares group holds a community service event during ATCE to give back to the local community where the conference is held. The non-profit organization supported this year was the Hemisfair Park Conservancy. The group is dedicated to revitalizing and maintaining Hemisfair Park, which is a historic landmark in downtown San Antonio.
Although the park is small, it frequently hosts events and contains many attractions, so there were plenty of projects for SPE Cares to help with. Because a big group of 55 SPE members signed up for the event, the Hemisfair Park staff decided to host a variety of projects for the volunteers. The projects included levelling the sand pits for the children, washing and scrubbing park outdoor furniture and toys, and organizing books for the park’s children’s reading program. In addition to all those who signed up for the event, additional volunteers showed up to help.
The SPE Cares Work Group was able to obtain $1600 in sponsorships from corporate partners Ameredev and Chesapeake Energy, and SPE student chapters UT Austin, UT Permian Basin, Penn State University, and Texas Tech University. As expected of the engineers’ dedication to the task and perseverance, the SPE members completed all the volunteering projects before 11.00 am.
The Hemisfair Park Conservancy was very pleased with the work of SPE Cares. Director of Park Operations Geoff Baldwin said: “Thank you for choosing Hemisfair for [the] SPE project…. [SPE Cares] is a great group, and it was fantastic to have so many folks helping us in the park.” The work of the SPE volunteers will help Hemisfair continue to entertain San Antonio residents and preserve the historical and cultural significance of the park.
The strong interest and support for the event shows that SPE members are very mindful of the social stigma around the industry and are passionate about positively changing it. Pennsylvania State University student Matthew Watson, who volunteered at the event, said “The SPE Cares initiative is extremely important for our industry and how people view it. These events show the community that we take an active role in protecting the area in which we live and operate.” He said that SPE members signed up for this event because it “aligns with the value of social and environmental stewardship that [they] strongly believe in.”
Since 2015, SPE Cares has been an initiative to give SPE members of all experience levels an opportunity to work with each other and give back to the community. To ensure participation from members around the world, the SPE Cares’ cofounders kicked off the annual ATCE events, so that members could give back to the host city’s community.
SPE Cares started with a pilot Galveston Beach Cleanup in 2015 as a SPE Gulf Coast Section Community Service Committee & Young Professionals event, and launched the 2016 ATCE event “Give-a-Ghaf” Tree Planting Program in Dubai. Another objective of SPE Cares is to encourage sections and chapters to increase their community involvement. Members can publicize their community service initiatives year-round by tagging #SPECares on their social media platforms to motivate others.
The SPE Cares Work Group is headed by Yogashri Pradhan, production engineer, Texas Oil and Gas Institute, and members are Ryan Gavlas, petroleum engineering graduate, Texas Tech University; and Silin “Leo” Huang, Dayeed Javed Khan, and Himchand Persad, petroleum engineering undergraduates, University of Texas at Austin.