Building Community

By Sharon Sullivan

A bulletin board in the break room at Reynolds Polymer Technology is plastered with photos and thank-you cards from community members who have benefited from Reynolds employees’ philanthropy.

Reynolds Polymer is an internationally renowned Grand Junction, Colorado-based company that makes highly engineered acrylic products for large-scale projects such as pools, aquariums, and architectural features. The company also contributes to scientific endeavors.

The Reynolds Polymer Employee Resource Foundation was formed in May 2018 after an employee’s daughter passed away. Co-workers offered money to the family to help with expenses. Instead, the family, who said it didn’t need the money, suggested forming a foundation to distribute funds to others in need during hard times.

A group of employees created bylaws, elected officers and started meeting once a month. Funds are generated by voluntary employee paycheck contributions of any amount with the company matching each donation. With 100 employees it doesn’t take long for funds to accumulate. Anyone can apply for assistance, whether or not they donate to the fund.

“Our main focus is to help employees in time of need,” says Luis Villalpando, a Reynolds supervisor, who was elected president of the foundation last year. For example, the foundation replaced an employee’s bike after it was stolen. When an employee’s family member began losing his hearing the company donated money to purchase hearing aids.

While employees are the company’s first priority, the Grand Valley community benefits as well. The foundation has given money to local nonprofits such as HopeWest, offering hospice and palliative care; Strive, which serves developmentally delayed adults and their families; and the Riverside Education Center, an afterschool tutoring program.

The foundation has also donated multiple times to the Hi Five Robotics team (one of Reynolds’ employees has kids on the robotics team) so the team can attend championship tournaments across the United States. When an 8-year old Grand Junction boy — whose grandmother used to work at Reynolds — presented a request for funds for his peewee hockey team, the company came through, allowing the youngsters to attend tournaments and afford the fees to practice at the local ice arena.

“We donated over $21,000 in 2019,” Villalpando says.

After a man, who was a friend to several Reynolds employees, passed away, the company donated money to his widow for Christmas presents for their three kids who were spending their first Christmas without their dad.

Last year a group of employees met at Eagle Rim Park to provide lunch for local river rafters who volunteered their boats and expertise to float the river while collecting garbage from the water and its shores during the annual Colorado River Cleanup.

Additionally, Reynolds donates materials and labor for numerous community projects. For example, a soothing cylinder water feature was created for the lobby of Western Slope Center for Children, a children’s advocacy center in Grand Junction.

An aquarium was given to Grand Mesa Youth Services where incarcerated youth planned to set up an aquaponics system for growing vegetables.

In addition, an acrylic backsplash was donated to Grand Valley Catholic Outreach’s community Soup Kitchen.

While this Grand Junction-based company earned a worldwide reputation for its craftsmanship of engineered acrylic products, Reynolds Polymer continues to remember its hometown through its employee resource foundation. “We feel we are building the community through donations and giving employees opportunities to volunteer,” Villalpando says.