PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

October 25, 2013

Valero cooks up hearty United Way contribution

Sherry Koonce
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — While serving up a big helping of steaming hot chili, Cory Moss shared the secret ingredient, serano peppers, that earned the Valero Port Arthur Refinery team first place accolades Friday during the company’s Employee Gumbo and Chili Cook-Off.

 The annual event, now in its fifth year, benefits the United Way of Mid-South Jefferson County, while celebrating Valero employee’s generosity.

This year, Valero employees pledged $355,000. The company will provide a 50 percent match for a total of $525,000 contribution to the local United Way for the charitable organization’s 2013-2014 campaign.

“Every year we wonder how it can get any better, and Valero seems to find a way” Janie Johnson, executive director of the United Way of Mid-South Jefferson County, said. “Valero is wonderful, but they have culinary secrets.”

Secret, or not, company employees put their culinary skills on display Friday, where 11 teams entered their best chili and/or gumbo recipes.

“We had a great day,” Barbara Phillips, public affairs manager at the Port Arthur refinery said.

Phillip’s team, the Black Pearl Pirates, a four-woman pirate-themed group, took first place honors for  Overall Theme, while Best Chili honors were bestowed on the RLT team, which alternately stands for Refinery Leadership Team, or Real Louisiana Team — however you want to look at it, Moss said.

Either way, Moss’ serano pepper chili offered just enough kick to win first place.

While Moss was quick to share the team’s secret ingredient, Team Valeroux Voodoo preferred to keep its first place gumbo recipe to themselves.

“It’s a secret recipe with a little side of voodoo,” head cook Michael Voivedich, said.

This year the local United Way has set a $1 million campaign goal. With the addition of Valero’s contribution pledge, the agency has reached 60 percent of its goal, Johnson said.

Last year, the United Way reached its $1.2 million pledge goal, but has not received all the money, Johnson said.

A continued weak economy prompted the organization to set their current campaign goal lower, at $1 million.

Last year’s campaign supports 20 agencies with 37 programs, Johnson said.

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