National Volunteer Week: Celebrating Feats of Service

Motivations to volunteer are as varied as the people who chose to serve. Some volunteer to help others less fortunate, some to gain leadership skills, and some to foster new friendships. There is a place for everyone in Engineers Without Borders USA’s (EWB-USA) volunteer community. We offer countless volunteer opportunites to meet different motivations as well as different skillsets and interest areas.

As we celebrate National Volunteer Week, we’re hearing from some of our volunteers about why they volunteer with EWB-USA and how the experience has changed their lives. These featured volunteers also share a commonality beyond their passion for service: they are all employees of EWB-USA’s corporate partner Pratt & Whitney.

Tom Rebbecchi, EWB-USA volunteer since 2012

Project Lead, Hartford Professional Chapter

“EWB-USA has enabled me to effectively use my engineering skills to benefit those in need. I volunteer with EWB-USA because it affords me the opportunity to directly improve the lives of others through the application of my engineering knowledge. Furthermore, it pushes me to be adaptive and enables me to work with people of many different backgrounds and perspectives.”




Michael Reiter, EWB-USA volunteer since 2006

Worcester Polytechnic Institute Chapter Mentor and EWB-USA Mentoring Committee Lead

“When I started with EWB-USA, I was just taking on my first project leadership role at Pratt & Whitney. At first I was developing two different leadership styles, one for EWB-USA and one for work. I found that the approach to leadership I learned running a volunteer organization was much more effective and ended up, where appropriate, replacing the tools I learned in the office with the tools I learned with EWB-USA. Leading in a volunteer organization is so much harder than at work because in the volunteer setting people can just not come back if they decide they don’t enjoy the group anymore.  Obviously at work you can’t just walk away as easily. Which means at EWB-USA I had to develop a leadership style where people enjoyed being involved and looked forward to coming back.  When I brought this approach into the office it was so much more effective; people really looked forward to working with me and it made for a much more fun experience.”



Wei Guo, EWB-USA volunteer since 2013

Past President, EWB-USA Hartford Professional Chapter

“Having grown up as a poor immigrant from China, I am passionate about giving back to those in impoverished countries with my engineering skills. Engineers Without Borders USA is one of the few organizations out there that offers that fulfilling opportunity. Knowing that the water pumping system that I have helped design and build is making the lives of the Sabhung community in Nepal better is one of my proudest accomplishments.”





Jen Hamvas, EWB-USA volunteer since 2015

Secretary, EWB-USA Hartford Professional Chapter

“As a member of the EWB-USA Hartford Professional Chapter, I have demonstrated my ability to develop relationships and work on a team. There is always room for improvement with communication skills, and mine have definitely improved by participating in this organization. The EWB-USA Hartford Chapter provides a dynamic and friendly environment where anyone is welcome. Everyone has different ideas and at our meetings every idea is respected.”
(Pictured second from the right)





Frank Preli, EWB-USA volunteer since 2014

EWB-USA Corporate Leadership Council

“There are several reasons to become involved with EWB-USA. Most importantly, EWB-USA is an organization of people committed to help those in need. The numbers of people on the planet without the bare necessities are staggering.  These people do not have access to clean water and electricity. It is important for those of us who have everything to assist those who have nothing. EWB-USA is an organization that works with communities to teach them to be more self-sufficient while undertaking a project that will bring them benefit.”  




Tom, Michael, Wei, Jen and Frank shared their service stories. Now it’s your turn to contribute to this week’s powerful conversation on the importance of volunteerism. Head on over to The Water Cooler, EWB-USA’s social hub, and share the volunteer moments — photos, quotes, stories — that inspire you to keep building a better world!

Pratt & Whitney
 is the sponsor of National Volunteer Week. Pratt & Whitney focuses their support on partnerships that empower their employees to make positive impact around the world. As the Pratt & Whitney employees above showcase, that impact trickles down from the volunteer experience directly into the workplace. Together with Pratt & Whitney, EWB-USA is building a better world and better engineers!