NW Natural 2021 Volunteer of the Year Honored for Commitment to Supporting Veterans

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November 10, 2021

PORTLAND, Ore. — NW Natural employees have a long history of giving back to their communities as volunteers — and this year’s NW Natural Volunteer of the Year is no exception.

John Budiao, a NW Natural communications and control technician, was recently recognized as the NW Natural 2021 Volunteer of the Year for his tireless volunteerism with veterans, and work with Operation Spartan Flags, a nonprofit he created to support veterans re-entering civilian life.

"While in the Marines, I made a pact with myself that if I made it back, I would do whatever I needed to help veterans know that their lives are worthwhile," Budiao said.

The mission of Operation Spartan Flags is to reduce suicide and the effects of PTSD among veterans by creating opportunities and networks where they can pursue a new skill in an environment of support, healing and camaraderie through woodworking.

“It's really more about connecting with others who have experienced the trauma of war than it is about wood craft,” Budiao said.

Operation Spartan Flags is just the latest endeavor in Budiao's life of service, which started with serving four years in the U.S. Marines, where he was deployed to hot spots all over East Asia and the Middle East. Budiao also served as a scout leader for 10 years, and currently coaches trap and football teams for Wilsonville High School. Since he joined NW Natural in 2003, Budiao has served in the Air Force Reserves and the U.S. Coast Guard.

“We’re so inspired by John and all our employees who volunteered in their communities this past year,” said Melinda Rogers, NW Natural’s chief human resources and diversity officer. “We’re proud to contribute to their efforts with a Dollars for Doers grant for the nonprofit they serve, which is one of the ways we support our culture of caring and the good work employees do in the community.”

Each year, the Dollars for Doers program invites employees to apply for contributions for the nonprofits they serve as volunteers. In 2021, NW Natural awarded 26 grants to local and regional nonprofits where employees volunteered an average of 271 hours per month for a total of 3,252 hours. The program is funded with NW Natural’s Corporate Philanthropy Fund, made possible by shareholders.

About NW Natural

NW Natural is a local distribution company that currently provides natural gas service to approximately 2.5 million people in more than 140 communities through more than 780,000 meters in Oregon and Southwest Washington with one of the most modern pipeline systems in the nation. NW Natural consistently leads the industry with high J.D. Power & Associates customer satisfaction scores. NW Natural, a part of Northwest Natural Holding Company, (NYSE: NWN) (NW Natural Holdings), is headquartered in Portland, Oregon, and has been doing business for more than 160 years. NW Holdings owns NW Natural, NW Natural Water Company (NW Natural Water), and other business interests. We have a longstanding commitment to safety, environmental stewardship, and taking care of our employees and communities, learn more in our latest ESG Report.