Hungry to help

Raytheon Technologies employees volunteer to feed those in need

Lisa Ly was only 13 when she and her family left their home in Vietnam for a new life in America.

Decades later, the memories of those early days are still fresh. She remembers her parents struggling to feed their children, leaning on the kindness of strangers for support.

“We went to a church to get food when we first started here,” said Ly, a program operations manager for Raytheon Intelligence & Space, one of the four businesses that form Raytheon Technologies, in El Segundo, California, and a member of the company’s Asian-Pacific Association employee resource group. “We really appreciated it. At least we knew we didn’t have to worry about food.”

When Raytheon Intelligence & Space employee resource groups began supporting the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank more than 15 years ago, it was only natural that Ly got involved. Giving something back to other families in need of food security felt like coming full circle, and she has since led groups of 50 to 75 employees for biannual gatherings at the food bank warehouse to fill donation boxes in the spring and fall.

The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the group’s planned volunteer event for April, at a time when many local families were in the most need, leaving a void for volunteers like Ly. Recognizing the need to support the most vulnerable during this time, Raytheon Technologies has made contributions to Feeding America, the United States’ largest network of community food banks.

A large portion of that support will be directed to the communities where Raytheon Technologies has the largest employee populations, such as El Segundo and the greater Los Angeles area. That’s welcome news to Jen Prindle, a member of RI&S El Segundo finance team who lives in Los Angeles and has volunteered for more than a decade at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Los Angeles Harbor, where youth from the local area as well as a sizeable military community in L.A., come for activities and support.

Working in corporate finance made Prindle great at managing budgets, so she was quickly pulled into the L.A. Harbor club’s financial planning board to support its nonprofit operations. When the COVID-19 response began to shut down businesses and spike unemployment across L.A., she and the other volunteer leaders saw the writing on the wall.

“Pretty early on, we realized this is a major economic crisis, in addition to a health crisis,” she said.

The club was forced to pause many of its youth activities due to public health restrictions, which meant kids accustomed to eating at its centers would not have those meals to rely on. “There’s no back up,” Prindle said. “There’s no cushion to fall on. We wanted to make sure these kids didn’t fall through the cracks.”

So the club began offering to-go meals, available for carryout from the parking lot. Prindle volunteered for a Friday shift to hand out 250 meals, expecting to be there for a while.

“We were blown away,” she said. “We handed everything out in under an hour.”

The centers currently provide 25,000 prepared meals each day from Monday to Friday, and thousands more prepacked “Weekend Wellness” food boxes filled with staples to provide food security to families on Saturdays and Sundays.

“It’s sad to see people who — two months ago — had jobs, and now they are in a line to get food,” said Prindle, whose role at RI&S has remained busy despite the pandemic. “It’s easy to get disconnected with work, but this puts it into perspective.”

Prindle and Ly are part of a nationwide cadre of employee volunteers who have stepped in to help support unmet needs in communities across the country affected by COVID-19. From financial donations, to leading virtual STEM activities and panels, to sending letters and cards to frontline workers, to donating blood and 3D printing personal protective equipment, Raytheon Technologies’ volunteers across the country have responded to the current crisis with waves of support.

Ly, for instance, looked for another way to help after her April food packaging session was cancelled. She pulled in her sister and brother-in-law to build a three-person production team assembling protective masks for frontline workers in the community. The trio cut patterns in two styles from donated fabric, then used sewing machines to stitch together 2,000 homespun masks that were donated to local hospitals and other essential employees.

“I’m a super newbie, I just did a fraction of it,” Ly said, adding that she often jammed the machine and even broke needles until she found her rhythm. “Through this, I learned a new skill. I couldn’t even sew before.”

Raytheon Intelligence & Space is part of Raytheon Technologies, which is using its manufacturing capacity, and engineering, logistics and finance expertise to carry out initiatives that serve our communities, deliver on our commitments to our customers and protect our employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about our efforts.