NAS makes large local United Way donation

Representatives of NAS presented a $33,146 check to United Way of Highway 55. From left are United Way Executive Director Ashley Abraham, board member Ashley Wright, NAS Deputy General Manager Mike Belzil and NAS General Manager Dr. Rich Tighe.

National Aerospace Solutions (NAS) has donated $33,146 to United Way of Highway 55 as part of its continuing support with its partnership and initiative to give back to the community of Tullahoma.

NAS is the test operations and sustainment contractor at AEDC at Arnold Air Force Base, with remote operating locations in Maryland and California, which employs over 1,500 people.

According to NAS Community Support Bob Pullen, NAS makes a company donation each year and has an employee donation drive where the employees have an opportunity to make a donation as well.

NAS has been supporting United Way of Highway 55 since 2016 when NAS created a community commitment plan as a way to give back to the area. United Way of Highway 55 was chosen due to the NAS’s parent company Bechtel’s partnership with United Way across the country.

This year’s donation was the largest donation NAS had given to United Way, despite the company having to go to reduced operations last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is the largest amount we have contributed to United Way this year,” NAS General Manager Dr. Rich Tighe said. “For the most part our workforces are doing pretty well, and this reflects the recognition that there are other people that have been impacted more so than our workforce.”

Pullen added the donation amount has increased each year and praised the employees for stepping up to give back.

“It’s been amazing to see that every year the total has increased, and even during a year like 2020 which gives you a great feeling about the people who worked out there,” he said.

NAS Deputy General Manager Mike Belzil praised United Way Executive Director Ashley Abraham for providing information to them about where the donations go and showing how their contributions are benefiting the community. He added the transparency provided gives the NAS workforce motivation to continue to donate.

“That’s a motivation to our workforce, who want to continue to do things, and that’s pretty neat to see how the contributions have grown over the last few years,” Belzil said.

Belzil is no stranger to United Way, as he worked on the organization’s allocations committee for the last couple of years. He said it was a great opportunity to see how the funds were affecting the community.

“It’s a great opportunity to participate in the process and understand how the contributions directly benefit our community, and that’s good information to carry back to our workforce,” Belzil said. “I think it drives home the importance and reality that our contributions really are benefiting the community that we live in, and that’s the heart of our program.”

Besides donating to United Way, NAS also made donations to four food pantries in the county, including the Henry Center and First Christian Church in Tullahoma and the Storehouse Food Pantry and Good Samaritan in Manchester. Each pantry received $1,000.

Pullen said during the height of the pandemic, both Tighe and Belzil asked him about what they could do to help the local food pantries in the community when it came to needs. Pullen said he reached out to Abraham to find out what the needs were and reported back with what he was told.

“It was a pretty quick turnout on that, and it made you proud,” Pullen said.

According to Tighe, NAS also provided a significant amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) and N95 masks, gloves and hand sanitizer to the Coffee County Health Department in the beginning of the pandemic with the help of Bechtel.

“I think our workforce really appreciated that we were able to do that,” Tighe said.

Abraham said during the pandemic, United Way has been able to continue to allocate the promised funds to the 16 partnered nonprofits and credits its partnerships and support from companies like NAS that has allowed the organization to continue to work in the community.

 “2020 was a struggle for all nonprofits and to be able to still allocate those promised funds to our 16 partnered nonprofits; we couldn’t have done without the partnership and the employees at NAS,” Abraham said.

To learn more about United Way of Highway 55 and how to get involved go to highway55unitedway.org.