A Team Member Perspective – Laura Pitt, Manager, Community Affairs
My greatest achievement is founding West without Borders*
I’ve worked at West for 21 years! One of my friends approached me and said he would love it if I joined West. He kept telling me what a great company West was and eventually I agreed. I loved the job in the sales department because I got to work with a lot of bold personalities. I’m very outgoing and talkative and so are account managers.
Within a year of joining West, the Kinston explosion occurred. I felt helpless being unable to do anything, but it was incredible to witness West’s response to both team members and the community. In 2004, there was a Tsunami in the Indian Ocean which created havoc in Asia – this event on the other side of the world would change everything for me. You see, I loved working with everyone at West, but I really wasn’t passionate about my work.
When the tsunami happened, Don Morel, (the CEO at the time) gathered the Exton team members together and announced West was sending a donation and told us how we could donate if we wanted to. Many of us did donate and it felt good to help!
Later that year I was talking to Don and I said, “It was such a nice thing we did for those affected by the Tsunami, we should do that every year.” Don looked at me and said “OK, let me know how it goes.” I said, “What do you mean?” and he said, “Well start something, just do it.” So, I did! That first year, I asked my friends at work to help, and we did a small event in Exton. We had a carnival theme, everyone came and played games and donated. It was great! We asked other West locations around the world to donate also - West without Borders (WWB) was born.
In 2009, I had the idea to change from supporting one global charity to encouraging each location to pick a cause or charity that was important to team members in their local community. I hoped that the WWB teams around the world would become more passionate about raising money if they were helping charities closer to home. And they were! Time marched on and while I loved doing WWB, I still wasn’t passionate about my fulltime role. What kept me at West was the philanthropy and my West family of friends.
2015 was another pivotal year for me. We got a new CEO. I was anxious that things would change and maybe we would not be able to do WWB anymore. I shouldn’t have worried because Eric Green is a passionate philanthropist and he brought lots of new ideas like the Global Food Drive, which collected over 20,000 pounds of food in its first year.
2016 was my favorite year at West. That was the year Eric Green created a full-time philanthropic role. I applied and was thrilled to be chosen. I was finally where I wanted to be - at West and doing what I loved – philanthropy.
WWB kept growing – first the food drive and then holiday programs and volunteering. Today at every West location, there is a WWB leader and team who volunteer many hours to make giving a success – I am so grateful to everyone!
I continue to be amazed by our global One West Team. In 2016, a hurricane devastated Puerto Rico with many team members losing their entire home to the storm. Incredibly, the day after the disaster West team members turned up to fix the fence around our plant and helped get the plant up and running. Some of them didn’t have homes, didn’t have anything and they were putting our site back together so we could start manufacturing. Thinking about their dedication and generosity still makes me cry, even today.
That’s what I love about West - something happens, and we show up. The Puerto Rico disaster gave me the idea that we needed a program to help team members who are experiencing hardship in their personal lives. Again, with the support of leadership and a global campaign to raise the funds, in 2019, the West Employee Emergency Fund became a reality.
My philanthropic role is my passion. It’s what I love to do. I’m sure people are tired of me saying that – but that’s why we’re here and what we should be doing. It aligns perfectly with West’s tagline “By Your Side for a Healthier World.” There is nothing better than helping other people.
May 2004 was when West without Borders was founded, fast forward to 2023, and West without Borders has 35 capstone charities in the Americas, seven in our Asia Pacific region and 21 across our European locations. These capstone charities focus on causes ranging from STEM education, hospital/healthcare, people with disabilities and community. West without Borders would not be as impactful without the countless hours donated by our global WWB team and money donated by all our team members.
West began as a family company. It’s still a family company, it has just grown to thousands of team members around the world. Like any family, sometimes we don’t all get along – but we are One West Team and we’re here for each other. I believe everyone at West is a philanthropist, everyone wants to give. It’s not always rainbows and unicorns but it’s always home. It’s the place where I hope to continue inspiring others to be philanthropic and make a difference. One day I will walk away from West knowing there is a little piece of me still there – something evergreen. A legacy I am very proud of.
*West without Borders is not affiliated with Doctors Without Borders®, which is a registered services mark of Bureau International de Médecins Sans Frontières.