Worlds Apart: Eastman Partnership with Kohtla-Järve Orphanage Continues to Grow

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Worlds Apart: Eastman Partnership with Kohtla-Järve Orphanage Continues to Grow

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.@EastmanChemCo Worlds Apart: Eastman Partnership with Kohtla-Järve Orphanage Continues to Grow

Multimedia from this Release

The orphanage director Juri, with Tony and one of the children at the orphanage.

The Sellers’ son Noah, plays guitar to one of the girls at the orphanage.

One of the children at the orphanage with a hand-made quilt donated by Kingsport’s Bellafina Chocolates.

Thursday, July 28, 2016 - 1:30pm

CAMPAIGN: Eastman Corporate Responsibility

CONTENT: Article

Although they are worlds apart, a student living in an orphanage in Estonia – near Eastman’s Kohtla-Järve (KJ) manufacturing site – is learning English from a local community volunteer.

These orphanages operate on shoe-string budgets and depend heavily on the generosity of the KJ community. That’s where Eastman team members come in, with both in-kind donations and the time and talent of employees and their families. Employees renovated some of the dilapidated rooms in one of the orphanages, collected funds to replace a dishwasher, and helped establish Wi-Fi for the laptop computers Eastman donated to the orphanage.

Sellers’ wife volunteered to teach English to the children. The Sellers’ kids also helped out. KJ site employees helped provide Christmas presents to the orphans, and children from both orphanages joined site employees’ children and grandchildren for Eastman’s annual Christmas party.

“As our time in Estonia got shorter, we realized that we needed to connect the orphanage to Eastman in a more formal way if we wanted them to continue to have access to the same level of support.”  Sellers said.

Sellers connected with the Corporate Responsibility team at Eastman, and the orphanage partnership continued to gain momentum.

Sellers left Estonia in May 2015 aware that the English tutoring started by his wife was in danger of ending. He returned to Kingsport and began looking for a Russian-speaking Eastman team member willing to tutor the students through Skype.

Last year, members of Eastman’s Corporate Responsibility team were introduced to Johnson City resident Svetlana Yatsky through the Eastman International Club. The team was able to connect the dots between Yatsky and KJ and, as a result, Yatsky has spent a few hours a week over the last several months mentoring a pre-teen girl via Skype and teaching her English.

“She is a sweet girl and very consistent with the lessons, thanks to her caregiver, too, of course. We learn simple things through songs and dialogues and it takes lots of lessons to learn the basic phrases, but it seems she is getting used to the spoken language,” Yatsky said. “I spent a few years working with orphans in Russia. It was not even a question for me when I heard about this opportunity to be somehow involved in their lives and to do something for them.”

Eastman team members also received a donation of children’s clothes from the local Bellafina Chocolates’ clothes closet, as well as a donation of quilts, for the orphanage. A couple of phones calls helped the team locate an employee planning a trip to KJ who was willing to travel with an extra suitcase, which another team member donated to the cause.

“The team members involved in this project went out of their way to be a part of improving someone’s life who they’ll likely never meet, expecting nothing in return,” said Global Public Affairs Representative Chrissy Idlette.

“We all want to feel like we’re making a difference, and Eastman allows and encourages us to volunteer and give in a way that’s fulfilling and beneficial to many. Eastman’s relationship with this orphanage and with the greater KJ community is a true testament to the giving spirit of the Eastman culture.”

To read more about Eastman’s Corporate Responsibility efforts, visit