Eastman’s Mike Tankersley already loved volunteering with his coworkers at Girls Inc., a nonprofit whose outreach programs inspire girls ages 5 to 18 to be strong, smart and bold.
Then he found out his long-lost sister, Ella Logan, had called the program her second home decades before. He'd unknowingly given back to the organization that had served her so well, which only grew his enthusiasm for the cause.
“I was already very passionate about helping Girls Inc. and supporting the girls,” said Tankersley, a senior manufacturing team manager in SCMD. “But now, knowing how my sister benefitted from their programs before we even met, it’s really emotional. I still get chills.”
Logan grew up in Kingsport and attended Girls Inc. programming. She was adopted at birth and discovered decades later she had three siblings, one of whom was Tankersley.
Among all the common threads the siblings shared before knowing about each other — like attending the same high school and having over 100 mutual friends on social media — Tankersley had already spent years volunteering at Girls Inc. with Eastman’s chemicals and acetate manufacturing division and the specialty chemicals manufacturing division.
For almost 30 years, the manufacturing teams have regularly sent 60 to 80 volunteers to the Girls Inc. site – and sometimes up to 100. The teams typically work 8 to 10 hours during United Way’s Annual Day of Caring, improving facilities by building picnic shelters, installing HVAC units and more.
Throughout the year, the teams raise funds for building improvements and host a fundraiser golf tournament. They also provide turkeys for the annual Girls Inc. Thanksgiving dinner, which feeds 300 girls and their families.
“In my 25 years with this organization, this is the best group I’ve ever worked with,” said Julie Wright-Short, executive director for Girls Inc. of Kingsport. “These folks make sure our facilities are structurally sound and beautiful, which makes our girls feel valued.”
Because they believe in the nonprofit’s mission and community impact so much, the manufacturing teams meet with Wright-Short and the Girls Inc. staff each year to review maintenance needs and set priorities.
“These girls just need to know that someone cares about them — whether they provide a hot meal, homework help or just someone to listen,” said Jonathan Wallace, a principal safety technologist in CAMD, who has been involved in the effort for 20 years. “We are all in for this organization.”