It’s not only rock and roll

By on June 30, 2015

Atomic helps Nepal

Atomic workers (from left) Bob Grote, Autumn Obenchain, Kate Wallace, and Chris Simpson are helping with relief efforts in Nepal from June 21 until July 7. (Photo by Pat Burns)

Atomic workers (from left) Bob Grote, Autumn Obenchain, Kate Wallace, and Chris Simpson are helping with relief efforts in Nepal from June 21 until July 7. (Photo by Pat Burns)

“This is not your usual company,” said Daniel McPhillips, Atomic president.

He used the phrase “culture” too many times to count when describing the flourishing set design business in a recent interview at his office in Lititz.

McPhillips explained how the culture at Atomic lends itself to the “social enrichment of the world.”

While that may sound lofty or haughty, it’s routine at Atomic, which recently helped finance the rebuilding of a school in a section of Nepal where a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 25 severely shook the lives of at least eight million people and left many homeless.

Atomic didn’t simply send a check, it sent its employees.

“A huge part of the success of what we do here is our employees,” McPhillips said.

Led by Bob Grote, a team of four Atomic employees left for Nepal June 21 to help at the Shree Mangal Dvip School and the remote villages of the Tsum Valley, Nubri and Lho (see video on the Lititz Record Express Facebook page).

“We’re an odd company, we make the rules up as we go along,” McPhillips said of the 21-year-old Atomic which has grown globally with offices in Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Brisbane, Rio de Janeiro, Edmonton and Singapore.

Atomic workers had an audience with Pema Tharchhen Rinpoche, where they  donated funds and discussed a return fall trip to help in the rebuilding of the Bakanje village monastery. (Left to right) Autumn Obenchain, Kate Wallace, Chris Simpson, Rinpoche, and Bob Grote.

Atomic workers had an audience with Pema Tharchhen Rinpoche, where they donated funds and discussed a return fall trip to help in the rebuilding of the Bakanje village monastery. (Left to right) Autumn Obenchain, Kate Wallace, Chris Simpson, Rinpoche, and Bob Grote.

“So when an opportunity like this comes up &tstr;whether it’s a giant opportunity or a small opportunity; especially when an employee is passionate about something that is doing good in the world &tstr; we always want to back them up,” McPhillips said.

Atomic is rooted in the rock and roll industry, joining Clair Global and Tait in Lititz, described as the “backstage of the concert world.” It serves clients from television networks to global brands to designers and artists.

While the company thinks big, its generous benevolence begins with a small giving committee called Mission Give that any employee can petition for any cause, said Chloe Rich, Atomic marketing manager.

“We have a vote process, and this is something that went up for a vote and we decided to give a check specifically to the school,” said Rich.

Grote’s passion for the Nepal effort drew the interest of three other Atomic employees – Kate Wallace, Autumn Obenchain, and Chris Simpson –  who volunteered to go to Nepal as well from June 21 to July 7.

Grote forged a love for Nepal from working 10 years there in association with his business, Peak Elevation, a personalized adventure travel company specializing in cultural immersion throughout the Himalayas of Asia, Andes of South America, and Africa.

He began practicing Tibetan Buddhism in 1994 and met a Buddhist lama who operates three monasteries in Katmandu and the Shree Mangal Dvip School.

Through the lama, Grote and his wife have become sponsors at the school and even brought clients there.

“Several clients have also sponsored students,” he said. “Over the years we’ve kind of adopted kids there and are kind of a mom and dad to them as well.”

Two of the four buildings at the school, which house more than 500 students have been damaged, he said.

“The boys, last week, were able to move back into the boys dorm, but the girls are still living out in the courtyard in tents,” Grote said. “Monsoon season has begun, so we’ve had about three months of rain where the kids have been getting soaked every night.”

Many students at the school live in remote villages.

“If they want to go back to their village they have to take a one-day bus ride and trek for five to six days,” he said.

Hampering the relief efforts is a corrupt Nepal government, Grote said.

“The Nepal government is kind of a sham. In seven years we’ve had nine prime ministers there,” he said. “They’ve kind of been detrimental to a lot of the relief efforts.”

Despite a powerful need for help in the remote areas, the government has rejected offers from countries to send helicopters into Nepal and have even imposed taxes on relief goods coming into the country, Grote said.

Grote is already planning a return fall trip to help in the rebuilding of the Bakanje village monastery.

The group has posted pictures of their trip on Atomic’s Facebook page, showing volunteers delivering medical and school supplies. You can support the relief efforts and learn more about the trip here: http://www.gofundme.com/wpwbrs

Patrick Burns is a staff writer and social media editor for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455. 

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