Putting a Friendly Face to the Name Valero

Taryn Rogers fuels the philanthropic endeavors and community outreach in and around St. Charles and St. Bernard Parish refineries.

Taryn Rogers wants you to know that Valero is more than a name.

It’s more than a humongous refinery spread out on 1,000 acres nestled next to the Mississippi River within the Port of South Louisiana’s Port District. It’s more than an employer of hundreds. It’s more than a producer of gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel and petroleum coke with a throughput capacity of 300,000 barrels per day.

Valero is part of the community – the whole community.

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Rogers has been echoing that mantra for close to 12 years now. As Valero’s Lead Community Relations Specialist, Rogers not only handles all press and media matters for both the Norco and Meraux facilities, she also spearheads Valero’s entire South Louisiana volunteer efforts — a role she’s been fit to fill for quite some time now.

“You know, as a young child I saw from my parents the importance of getting involved in the community,” Rogers said. “The way they were involved in organizations like the schools…that kind of led the way for me to get engrained in it once I hit high school at Archbishop Chapelle in Metairie – joining clubs and organizations that did community work. That’s really where this deep appreciation for [giving back] developed and it’s just gone from there.

“Valero, above all else, is a community-minded company,” Roger said, later. “So when I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work here, and in this job, it’s exactly what I wanted to do. Such a large part of what we do is volunteerism.”

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Valero backs up Rogers’ words with its company policy of allowing employees to perform community outreach or to observe how their charitable donations are being put to work, both while on and off the clock. Valero also matches 50 cents to every employee dollar donated to the United Way, a commitment that boosted the total accumulated during the 2016 campaign (which Rogers helps to oversee almost year-round) to $1.1 million.

Valero St. Charles and the United Way’s partnership dates back decades, and revs up annually from the beginning of August to the end of October. Rogers and her team orchestrate a two-day “United Way Kickoff” event staged in the common area near the administration building. Games and raffles to win company-purchased prizes are a hit, but the main attractions are the employee Jambalaya and Gumbo Cook-Off competitions – the ultimate test of culinary clout.

TOP LEFT: Althea Pollard, Valero St. Charles Co-Chair, Taryn Rogers, John Dias, United Way St. Charles Executive Director and Ralph Phillip, VP and General Manager. Taken at the United Way Celebration where they presented the organization with a check for over $1.1 million. TOP RIGHT: Taryn Rogers at the “Veterans Home Christmas Visit” last year handing out sweets to the Veterans. BOTTOM: Taryn Rogers with Chris Nubel of American Red Cross presenting a check to them for Flood Relief in August of 2016.

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“Oh, it’s a big deal,” Rogers said with a smile. “Those bragging rights are a big deal.”

Rogers also heads up both of the refineries’ children’s charity committees which are responsible for dictating how their shares of charitable proceeds from the annual PGA Valero Texas Open in San Antonio will be divvied up between local children’s charities in South Louisiana.

“And yes, we do raise money and give money,” Rogers said. “But what we pride ourselves in is getting out there and giving that helping hand.”

The Valero Volunteer Council is an employee council that meets monthly to pitch and pick large-scale community projects to either produce, or to take part in. Those events are not just limited to St. Charles and St. Bernard Parishes — the areas where Valero has sites. Rather, Valero employees can be found at philanthropic gatherings in the communities where they live, as well – all three River Parishes, along with Jefferson, Orleans Parishes, etc.

Over the 2016 holiday season, Valero employees volunteered at a local Veterans Center, the highlight being a full-service dessert bar that would make Willy Wonka envious. Valero employees are also regulars at area Senior Centers and Assisted-Living Residences, and chip in with the annual Parish-sponsored St. Charles Toy and Gift Drive by providing hot dogs and chili and other concessions for donators and toy-acceptors alike.

“You know, this community gives us the license to operate,” Rogers said. “So without a relationship with this community, we couldn’t be operators. I think getting out there and me, or any of our employees, getting hands-on and showing our faces is the best way to show our appreciation. We try to make it that when the community needs us or wants to include us, they’re not cold-calling the refinery – they know my name, they know my face, they have my phone number. We’ve developed those close relationships over the years, and we’ll continue to develop those relationships in the future.”

-William Kalec

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