Nov 22, 2023
What The BPA Team is Thankful For
This year, we're grateful for each other, our supporters, our families, and so much more. What are you most thankful for?
By: Macie Melendez
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It comes sandwiched between two holidays we celebrate, Halloween and Christmas, that—to put it frankly—take way too much effort.
The weeks prior to Halloween are a battleground of indecision for my kids. (I have two boys, aged 7 and 9.) They usually start out wanting to be something extravagant that either needs to be homemade or comes with way too many logistics that they can’t ultimately agree to doing (“I am not wearing the mask the whole night!”). And it ends with picking something off the rack at Target or Spirit. In the middle, there’s 10 other costume ideas they assure me are “the one.”
Christmas is wonderful, but I’m not going to lie, it takes a lot of pre-planning and shopping. We have family that lives nearby and other family that lives on the other side of the state. So, we have to navigate everyone’s schedules and traditions and try to forge our own. The kids never sleep on Christmas Eve because they are too excited and a million presents are opened before 7 am on Christmas morning. It’s fun and memorable and…exhausting.
But Thanksgiving. That’s my sweet spot. A night filled with family at my home, sitting around a dinner table for hours, eating good food that everyone helped make. That’s where my heart feels full. My family has a tradition where we go around the table and all say what we’re thankful for at that moment in time. Usually it’s health and each other, but sometimes it’s milestones like a new job or a new baby, and other times it’s something simple like the glass full of wine in front of them.
This year, I shared that tradition with my coworkers and asked everyone on our team what they’re most grateful for this year, both professionally and personally. The BPA team is spread out across 12 different states, so I heard from people at different times and days over the course of a week. Let’s pretend, though, that this article is our dinner table. Here’s the team’s responses in the order I received them—imagine us all sitting together.
Diane Chojnowski: I’m grateful to work with our great team at BPA to spread the word about energy efficiency in buildings. It’s exciting to be part of the focused effort our country is making to tackle energy issues and climate change. On a personal note, our son is engaged to be married! We’re super excited!
Robyn Hall: Professionally, I’m so very thankful that I get to collaborate with this AWESOME team to develop incredible events across the country, and getting to meet new faces and catch up with old industry friends. Personally, I’m thankful for my hard-working husband and amazing daughters. I’m also thankful to have had the opportunity to travel to new places this year.
Gypsy Matlak: I’m so very thankful to be working with the team that I do. It’s truly a blessing to be working with such incredible people that care so much about the work they do and each other. Personally, I’m very thankful for my family and friends, for good health and for being able to make special memories with our children and grandchildren during the holidays.
Steve Skodak: I am thankful for the many volunteers that give their time, talent, and treasure to support BPA. We could not do all that we do without each volunteer that helps present at conferences, review presentations, help during sessions, and set the organization’s direction. Personally, I am thankful for time spent with my family during the holidays. Their support makes it possible for me to do the work I do each day.
Ruben Perez: Professionally, I’m grateful for completing my first year with a passionate organization filled with equally passionate and understanding colleagues. Anyone would be hard-pressed to find a better balanced work-life environment. Personally, I am grateful for each new day, reunions with friends old and new, as well as my close-knit family despite the geographical distances.
Xavier Walter: I appreciate no longer having to spend my career on an island. While I always had good people to work with, it hasn’t been since I owned my own business that I felt like I am a part of a team. Camaraderie, shared responsibility, and cohesiveness are all hallmarks of a great work environment. I’m thankful every day that I get to live my best professional life with people I honestly enjoy working with. My daily routine includes mindfulness techniques where I list all of the things around me that I am thankful for. The more I list, the higher the propensity for that list to grow. My home, my lake, my rivers, my chickens, my ducks, my goats, my mountain, my friends, my neighbors, my local diner, my gardens, my trout, my tractor, and, of course, my health.
Maria Lewis: I am grateful to have the opportunity to travel and meet so many great people in this industry. I never even knew this industry existed before working with BPA. I love seeing and hearing the passion when people talk about the work they all do and how it impacts the community and how their jobs make the biggest difference to help families be healthy, happy, and safe. I believe that this industry saves the planet, but even more importantly, it saves families money and provides them with peace in the one place they spend their time the most. None of this is possible without a team that’s passionate and has good hearts willing to make a difference in each person’s life.
Nate Natale: Professionally, I am most thankful for our workplace culture. We care about the whole person, we want everyone to reach their full potential, we truly value input, and we hire for fit—we want characters, and we absolutely have them! This culture has gone a long way in building the best team I could ever hope to work with. It has allowed us to recruit, nurture, and retain the most talented, big hearted, fun group of people who are BPA’s most valuable asset and biggest reason behind our success. How lucky am I to have this work life? I know it and I am so very grateful.
Personally, I am most thankful for the craziest year ever. We have three kids: a senior in high school, a first-year middle schooler, and a kindergartener. Three schools, three big transitions, and three very different phases of life. We are pulled in every direction, are super stressed, and are having all kinds of feelings about where all of them are in their young lives. It’s a lot. It’s also the last time it will be the five of us living like we have been in one form or another for almost 18 years. There is a lot of beauty to be found in all this madness and I am trying to soak it all in before this chapter is over and to be grateful for one more year of all of us together.
Katie Miller: My work-related gratitude is to our partners, sponsors, allies, and members who support us in the work we do each day. We truly could not do it without their support and dedication to the industry. I’ve had the privilege of seeing growth, change, and collaboration in the industry this past year and I’m excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. Personally, I’m thankful for my family and friends and their unwavering support, love, and encouragement.
Robin Yochum: I’m grateful that I get to build the next chapter of my career with people I consider to be family. Personally, I’m grateful that my kids and family are happy and healthy!
Bethany Sowinski: This year, I’m grateful for our supportive and growing BPA team—and everyone who pitched in while I was on maternity leave and did a kick *ss job. Personally, I’m grateful to have Aidan (my son) in our lives and I am excited for his first Thanksgiving!
Brook Vernon: I am thankful for joining BPA and having such a wonderful work-life balance. I’m also thankful for the opportunity to further engage in the home performance/energy efficiency industry—especially around the topic of workforce development. Personally, I am thankful for the upcoming holiday and hopefully healthy children, time with family, and EXTRA sleep!
Chris Docchio: I’m grateful for all the wonderful people in my life: my family, friends, and work family! Sincerely.
Hailey Champagne: I’m grateful to have met many great people at BPA, especially Maria Lewis! They are making my gap year better than I could have imagined. And personally, I am thankful for peppermint hot chocolate and my family because I’ll need both to get through the winter.
Haley Pegg: I’m grateful to be the newest team member at BPA and to be warmly welcomed by everyone. Personally, I’m grateful for my family, friends, and to have the best (and cutest) dogs in the world.
As for me? Professionally, I’m grateful for every single person that I interview for BPA Journal articles and press releases because they are all passionate about what they do and that makes my job really easy and fun. Personally, I’m grateful for my first year in my new home (we became first-time homeowners around this time last year)…and I’m thankful that my husband and I have survived working from home within 5 feet of each other for an entire year.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and I urge you to take a few minutes this year to truly look around you and answer the question: What are you most thankful for right now? Maybe it’ll become your tradition too.