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MLK Day inspires service, literacy campaign

Phillips 66 employees are embracing Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a time of reflection and service — from coast to coast.  

In a joint effort, the Black Employee Networks of Bayway Refinery in New Jersey and Rodeo Refinery in California launched the Gift of Literacy campaign to provide books and supplies to lower-income schools in their communities.  

“If you start kids off early with reading books, a lot of things happen,” said Cory Phillips, a Lab Team Leader at Bayway, who’s helping to lead the effort. “Your communication improves, your vocabulary improves, and you start developing some vision. It just opens up this entire world when we start embracing literature.” 

The literacy campaign, and other service projects related to the MLK holiday, are part of the Phillips 66 Good Energy program, which encourages employees to volunteer to improve their communities. 

The Gift of Literacy campaign was sparked by Lisa Fontanes, who supports the Refining Laboratory at Bayway. Fontanes had a professional connection to an executive at First Book, a nonprofit focused on ensuring quality education for children living in poverty by providing books and other resources at significant discounts.  

BEN teamed up with First Book, which will provide books for schools in Union County, N.J., and California’s Bay Area. The books will represent diverse characters and voices. 

Currently, many teachers in low-income communities pay for new books and supplies out of their own pocket, said Phillips. This can become difficult when you need 20 copies of a $30 book, he said. The collaboration with First Book will help bridge the gap. 

Elsewhere, Phillips 66 employees are commemorating the MLK Day of Service in various ways:     

  • BEN in Houston is collecting disposable face masks to deliver to three local schools as COVID-19 continues to spread.
  • BEN in Ponca City, Okla., is sponsoring an Annual Interfaith Prayer Breakfast in partnership with Attucks Community Alliance to celebrate the life and works of King. 
  • The Sweeny Refinery BEN group is helping to organize the March for King in Bay City, Texas.
  • Lake Charles BEN is riding in a Martin Luther King Jr. parade, and the Lake Charles Manufacturing Complex is a sponsor of the Southwest Louisiana MLK Festival.