Supporting Frankfurt’s most vulnerable populations

AWO (Arbeiterwohlfahrt) is a charity organization that works throughout Germany. The Air Liquide Foundation has supported three of AWO’s Frankfurt’s projects. Their sponsors, Anne Köchel and Christoph Petry, who are Human Resources Managers at Air Liquide Frankfurt, tell us about their experience working with the association over the last two years.

Why did you choose to support this association?

Christoph Petry: AWO is a non-governmental organisation that was founded after the First World War. Its original mission was to help German widows. Its remit gradually widened and it now strives to support the most needy: the elderly, people with disabilities, and immigrants. It also supports social causes: nurseries, primary schools, and training programs. This is also the case in Frankfurt, where it runs a temporary refugee center and shelters for young people from underprivileged neighborhoods – providing recreational activities and professional guidance – as well as a retirement home for isolated senior citizens. These three programs are supported by the Air Liquide Foundation.

What does this imply for you?

Anne Köchel: We regularly visit the projects to evaluate them and monitor their progress. This means we follow each project from the day they are submitted to the Foundation’s Project Selection Committee until they are completed.

How have you benefited from being a sponsor?

Anne Köchel: It’s an enriching experience that everyone should have the opportunity to try. Air Liquide Frankfurt’s employees were actually able to attend a conference presenting AWO, which the Foundation’s administrator Jean-Marc de Royere participated in.
Christoph Petry: I was immediately struck by the social aspect. Being a sponsor is a powerful experience: I was able to talk to people I would never have otherwise met, and encountered a reality that few people see.

Which project impressed you the most?

Christoph Petry: The refugee center made an impression on us. The staff there do an incredible job: they have to manage and avoid tensions between 200 people living in a confined space. Being able to bring them a little joy was extraordinary for us!
Anne Köchel: The project consisted in renovating a living room, setting up a ping-pong table, a television, a table football game, etc. I realized that the Air Liquide Foundation gives these people a real chance. Meeting them enabled me to see things differently.

And what about the future?

Anne Köchel: I would like to be able to support other projects and I encourage my colleagues to sponsor projects to have this kind of experience!
Christoph Petry: I hung photos of the supported projects in my office to create an opportunity to talk about it. And it works: a colleague has since sponsored a project…

Read about AWO Frankfurt’s three projects