Gorge Fire Cleanup: An Employee’s Passion for Sustainability and Volunteerism

by Annette Navarro, DaimlerCares Lead8/1/2018
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Last autumn, fire raged in the Columbia River Gorge, burning the area for months. Known as the Eagle Creek Fire, nearly 50,000 acres of wilderness and hiking trails were scorched just outside of Portland, Oregon. With passion for the environment reaching all the way down to her steel-toed boots, Beate Hoelscher from DTNA’s CEO’s Office decided to take action. She used one of her two annual, paid volunteer days to help Trail Keepers of Oregon, a nonprofit organization providing cleanup initiatives in the wake of the fire.

“I see volunteering as a huge learning opportunity and a welcome chance to interact with nature while giving back to the community with the support of my employer,” said Beate. “Being there and representing the company I work for made me feel an extra sense of pride as I helped to clear burned trails.”

Comfortable with outdoor labor, Beate good-naturedly describes her volunteer work as akin to “eight hours of heavy-duty yardwork.” After returning to the office from the forest, Beate was happy to report back on her experience to the company’s Sustainability Club, which boasts nearly 300 employees nationwide.

Ongoing Sustainability and Volunteerism

Olga Aulet-Leon, DTNA’s sustainability champion and leader of the Sustainability Club, confirms a companywide passion for environmentalism and overall desire to give back to the community. According to Olga, “Employees seem ready to roll up their sleeves. DTNA’s volunteer programs, matching donations and educational efforts create a huge encouragement to go out and donate time.”

Like Beate, many of DTNA’s employees were devastated by the fires and wanted to learn more about what happened and what they could do to help. The Sustainability Club brought in Ralph Bloemers from Crag Law Center, who presented on the recovery efforts on the forests and trails. There, employees also learned about opportunities to use their paid volunteer days to restore the lost trails.

At DTNA, employees are fully encouraged to “walk the talk” of community giving, whether the causes that resonate with them are sustainability or anything else. They act on their passions and are supported as they do, contributing to their communities through sustainable volunteer efforts that make a real difference.


Corporate giving programs are pretty common, but the approach we take at Daimler Trucks North America differs from most. The causes supported by our DaimlerCares program aren’t determined by the marketing or PR teams, but by our employees’ passions.

We track the nonprofit organizations that our employees select for matching gifts and volunteer hours and put our corporate support behind those causes, offering full-time employees two paid days of annual volunteer time and a dollar-for-dollar matching gifts program, applicable in service to the organizations or causes of their choice.

Employees look forward to their opportunities to take advantage of this time, often asking for input on the best ways to make the greatest impact with the paid volunteer time available to them. Whether supporting an environmental organization or another worthy cause, the matching gifts program and paid time off to volunteer remind employees that Daimler cares.

Annette Navarro DaimlerCares Lead

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