It is easy for a company to give employees the familiar “pat on the back” when they do volunteer work on their own time. But at SCJ Alliance, serving others is woven through the company and its culture.
Less than a year ago, SCJ Alliance opened a new office in downtown Centralia and they made it clear they were putting a stake in the ground to not only be a part of the community, but to improve the social and economic conditions in Lewis County.
Their core values include “stewardship” — empowering their team to make choices that serve clients, community and company — as well as “compassion,” encouraging people to help when a need is discovered.
Brandon Johnson Shows Heart for Kids and Community
Brandon Johnson, a principal at SCJ Alliance, is passionate about helping youth.
“I love to spend my time giving back to anything that has to do with kids,” he says. “I was blessed with great parents, teachers, coaches and church members when I was younger, and it made a lasting impact in my life.”
Johnson understands, that for many parents in Lewis County, life is hard. They are just trying to survive and make ends meet.
“Unfortunately, in those situations, the kids often suffer from lack of supervision and mentorship and find themselves struggling in school and getting in trouble, and they end up repeating the cycle,” he adds. “If my time helps one out of 10 kids break out of that cycle, that is an amazing impact on both the child’s life and the overall health of our community.” Johnson has been coaching youth sports for almost a decade, so he can be a role model to local kids. He has coached everything from girls and boys soccer and football to Little League and peewee basketball.
After opening the office in Centralia, Brandon wanted to find another way to get involved. One of the organizations he met with was the United Way of Lewis County. Brandon said Executive Director Debbie Campbell explained changes were in the works at United Way, shifting to a goal of getting 30% of Lewis County families out of poverty by 2030. “It was a mission and direction that I felt compelled to be a part of,” shared Brandon.
He now serves on the board of United Way of Lewis County and is involved with the Lewis County Economic Development Council (EDC) and the Centralia-Chehalis Chamber of Commerce. Johnson has used his knowledge and expertise as an engineer to help develop many projects, including improvements to and expansion of several college and K-12 campuses, new sports complexes, parks, high school football fields and after-school clubs.
Eric Johnston Connects the Community
Eric Johnston, another principal at SCJ Alliance, considers the work he does outside his day job as integral. He is on the board of the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce and in the past has been involved with the Association of Washington Business through their Leadership Institute. Through his work at SCJ Alliance, Johnston deals with private business owners, public agency staff, elected officials, school districts and tribes – basically our entire community. “The interaction between all these groups is really our community in action, and we [SCJ] are often standing right in the middle of that intersection,” he says. “I don’t really see it as giving back – it’s about finding ways we can help our community.”
SCJ Alliance specializes in civil engineering, transportation planning and design, environmental and urban planning, landscape architecture and design, and public outreach.
Since SCJ Alliance’s business revolves around planning and development, the team has knowledge and experience to share with organizations they support. “I have participated in the board’s strategic planning efforts, including visits with local government agencies and businesses to identify ways the Chamber can facilitate business growth, workforce development (which includes several programs in local schools) and improved relationships between businesses and government agencies,” says Johnston.
Jean Carr Supports Small Business
Jean Carr, a senior principal at SCJ Alliance, feels drawn to helping other businesses to bolster the economy and provide jobs.
“I am particularly drawn to organizations that represent and support local businesses such as Chambers of Commerce,” she says. Carr is a member of the board of directors for the Lacey South Sound Chamber of Commerce and co-chair for the Chamber’s Education Committee. She also sits on the Executive Committee for The Round Table of Thurston County.
“Small businesses play an important role in providing employment opportunities and in the economic vitality of our community. Business organizations may not be as compelling on the surface as many charitable organizations, but they play an important role by providing a platform for making connections, participating in community events, providing input on important community issues and offering support to both new and established businesses.”
Carr’s passion for education and business has led her to the education committee for the Lacey Chamber. “As co-chair of the committee, I help develop the agenda and focus for the group, work on special projects the committee takes on and coordinate with other committees where applicable to combine our efforts,” she says. “It’s an exciting combination of my passion for both education and business.”
Perry Shea Helps Engineer Change
Perry Shea, also a senior principal at SCJ Alliance, is the Thurston Economic Development Council (EDC) board president and has been on the board for five years. He is also on the board of the South Puget Sound Community College Foundation and was a board member and chair for the Tenino School District for nine years prior. Shea and his SCJ Alliance team have been involved in many projects that use their expertise, including helping develop the process and framework for completing a five-year strategic plan that led to the creation of the Thurston Strategic Alliance Fund and partnerships with civic leaders, private enterprise and leading professionals in our community.
“My professional background as a registered engineer has helped the EDC evaluate site assessments for leveraging new businesses and retaining current businesses in our region,” Shea explains. As part of his work with the SPSCC Foundation, the firm partnered with the college to develop a trail system along Percival Creek that allowed the reopening of the popular foot bridge.
SCJ Alliance Puts Their Expertise to Work for Others
While SCJ Alliance is often hired for their expertise, many organizations look to SCJ’s team members for volunteer leadership roles or to lend a set of expert hands. Being an integral part in the community is really what the SCJ Alliance team strives for, no matter the job. And while they do give monetary donations, the lending of their hands (and minds) is perhaps their most valuable donation. The team has contributed thousands of hours to improve the communities in which they live and work. SCJ Alliance employees are involved in leadership roles with the Lewis County EDC, Centralia Downtown Association, United Way of Lewis County, Main Street Program, Centralia-Chehalis Chamber of Commerce, Centralia College Foundation, Centralia High School Skills USA and many other non-profit organizations throughout the area.
The bottom line is that for SCJ Alliance, giving back is something they get to do, not have to do. “Being engaged and involved in our community is rewarding and fulfilling,” says Shea. “I enjoy the passion and commitment that comes from being active and contributing to the missions of the boards that I serve on.”
Team members feel the same way.