VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Feb. 18, 2021 – Virginia Natural Gas (VNG) will honor the service and retirement of former company president Jim Kibler with a $25,000 donation to An Achievable Dream Academy (ADA). With public-school academies in Newport News and Virginia Beach, the nonprofit organization partners with businesses such as VNG, to offer a quality social, academic and value-based education to help children learn and succeed regardless of socioeconomic background.
“Jim has been a tremendous asset to our company, the industry and the community we serve,” said Robert Duvall, VNG president. “Our culture is to invest in our communities, and Jim was an advocate of giving back and making the places we serve stronger and better. It is an honor to make this donation in his name for his service.”
Kibler retired from VNG last year, and left an impact on the community he served, especially with organizations like An Achievable Dream Academy. During his four years as president from 2016 until 2020, employees volunteered at their Seatack Elementary School Academy mentoring students, and conducting back to school drives and various volunteer projects around the school.
As a self-professed “HEAD Start kid,” Kibler knows the value of ensuring access to education in underserved and at-risk communities.
“It’s an honor to have this donation made in my name to this program because ADA is driving terrific results and literally changing the lives of children and families in our community,” said Kibler. “Unlike some other models, ADA wraps the traditional public school offerings with the benefits of neighborhood public schools, while providing access to programs that usually only occur in private school settings.”
The donation couldn’t come at a better time according to Lee Vreeland, president and CEO of An Achievable Dream Academy. With the recent announcement of the return to optional in-school classes, the academies have financial needs to make the transition as smooth as possible for students.
“This gift makes it possible for us to continue to meet the needs of our students and families, particularly as this pandemic and virtual learning continues,” said Vreeland. “Our ‘whatever it takes’ mentality is one that often requires us to find new, innovative solutions to challenges as they arise to ensure our Dreamers still receive the key components of our Social, Academic, and Moral Education (SAME®) framework. This gift from VNG on behalf of Jim will go a long way in providing us the flexibility needed to do all that we can to support our Dreamers.”
Some of the items include document cameras to demonstrate tasks and assignments, replacement chargers for Chromebooks, and science outreach programs to bring the hands-on instruction that students missed while attending class virtually. Programmable coding robots will also be used in all grade levels for science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM classes, as a way to increase student engagement.
As part of the academy’s mitigation strategies in fighting COVID-19, students and staff will also be provided masks and hand sanitizer, drawstring bags to carry items between classes, and whiteboards and markers to assist them in math classes while reducing cross contamination.
“While our staff and teachers have gone to extraordinary measures to make sure all learning and development benchmarks were still being met during the pandemic, there is no denying that the lack of in-person interaction has changed the dynamic,” added Vreeland. “This gift from VNG will allow us to provide additional resources to support students as they transition back to face-to-face learning.”
This is not the first donation to An Achievable Dream Academy by Virginia Natural Gas. In 2018, under Kibler’s leadership, VNG partnered with Pharrell Williams, and donated $50,000 to help expand and overhaul the 6,700 square foot community garden at Seatack Elementary, complete with vegetable gardens, a greenhouse and other environmentally-friendly areas.
But it’s the employees’ engagement, added Kibler, and the company’s annual support of ADA that opened a door for VNG to be the first local company to join national and worldwide brands in promoting Something In The Water, and in developing the community garden that extends the reach of the company’s involvement to last well beyond the school year.
“VNG employees’ leadership in volunteering at Seatack is so good and great all by itself that it deserves to stand alone,” said Kibler. “It’s a gift from the heart and an expression of love for our neighbors, and by investing in our community, makes VNG, I believe, the best natural gas company in America.”
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Virginia Natural Gas is one of four natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO). Virginia Natural Gas provides clean, safe, reliable and affordable natural gas service to more than 300,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in southeast Virginia. Consistently ranked in the top quartile for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates, the company also has been recognized by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and the Virginia Oil and Gas Association for its safety, innovation, environmental stewardship, community outreach and educational programs, and has been named Local Distribution Company of the year four times since 2015. The company has been ranked by its business customers as one of the most Trusted Business Partners in the utility industry according to Cogent Reports, and as one of the Top Workplaces in Hampton Roads by Inside Business. For more information, visit virginianaturalgas.com and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
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