Through the Employee Ideas that Matter programme, Sappi employees bring their charitable ideas to life. Employees apply for direct funding to non-profit organisations that they are most passionate about, and the winners share $25,000 in corporate giving to support select causes. Funding can be used in many ways from financing a project, sponsoring a trail clean-up, or providing new equipment or supplies.
More than 20 years ago, Sappi’s Dale Leroux and Don Davidson fulfilled a lifelong dream of creating a children’s book focused on diversity by writing The Rainbow Rescue. The book remained unpublished, however, until 2018 when Sappi provided an Employees Ideas that Matter grant to the Westbrook Maine Children’s Project to publish 500 copies of the book. Sappi also donated the paper for the printing.
The Westbrook Children’s Project is a programme of the United Way of Greater Portland that brings community resources together to help children through their school years. The Project donated 300 copies of The Rainbow Rescue to the Westbrook Maine Community Center and Westbrook schools. Each fourth-grade student in the Westbrook school district received a copy. Additional copies were donated to other school libraries in the area.
The Rainbow Rescue tells the story of a witch who uses her power to drain all colour from the village of Uppygoo. “I was trying to teach my young daughters about inclusion, acceptance and not judging a person by the colour of their skin”, Dale says. The book tells a heart-warming story with an important message about diversity and inclusion.
“We wanted to create a story that said it's okay to be different."
Dale, who is a Quality Tester in Ultracast at Sappi’s Westbrook Mill - and also works as an editorial cartoonist at a local newspaper - drew the illustrations for the book. He came up with the idea of creating a children’s book in 1995 and reached out to Don who wrote the text. Don, his friend and co-worker of 36 years, retired from his position as an Ultracast Coater in 2016.
Although written and copyrighted years ago, the story’s themes of acceptance and diversity are timeless and relevant to the Westbrook community. Dale and Don chose to share the story in print rather than digital form, noting that the book printed on Sappi’s best printing paper ideally shows off the colour and ‘pop’ of the illustrations, providing a more tangible and appealing channel to reach the children who will read it.
Dale and Don created handmade copies of their book years ago for their own children and grandchildren, but this project provided an opportunity to formally publish their work and share it with a larger audience for the first time.