Intel's 'Global Hero' wins major award
Michael Premi spent nearly two decades in the U.S. military and has decided to dedicate his life to giving back to veterans in need since getting out.
Now, that work is being recognized by Premi's employer, Intel, which recently awarded him the company's Involved Global Hero Award for outstanding service to his community.
Premi was selected out of more than 100,000 Intel employees across the globe, earning him a $10,000 donation to the organization of his choice. The annual award goes to a volunteer that has gone above and beyond to give back to their community, said Bridget Bash, an Intel spokeswoman.
"It's a global nomination," she said. "We are very lucky to have it be in Oregon this year and we are so excited about the work he is doing."
Premi, a virtual reality software innovation manager at Intel's Jones Farm campus in Hillsboro, will donate this money to Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States Post 2666 in Hillsboro. Premi has been a member of the organization for years.
"It's great to have the intent to want to give back, (but) it was only until I joined VFW, was I able to magnify what I really wanted to do," Premi told the Tribune. "I'm just thrilled that $10,000 gets to go to the (organization). We will do great things. I'm confident that that is going to make a huge impact."
Premi is a member of a resource group within Intel for American veterans, and joined the VFW after meeting them at a Veterans Day event just a few years ago.
"I gravitated toward the VFW," Premi said. "They talked about their programs and I joined on the spot. I'm really grateful to the employee resource group and also my local post for the VFW."
Since joining, Premi has held several positions with the nonprofit organization and is heavily involved with local events. He also serves as a general resource for local veterans in need through the VFW's emergency action committee, he said.
"We are always on email threads so when we hear about somebody in distress, we will deal with it," Premi said. "I can tell you stories from this week where we helped a veteran out."
Premi mentioned several very recent stories of helping veterans. One where he helped cut down the interest rates on a payday loan for a veteran in need, and another where he helped a single-mother veteran who was having a major toothache, but wasn't insured or financially able to see a dentist, for a desperately needed root canal.
"Through the emergency action committee, we reached out to an endodontist who would do it for a discounted fee," Premi said. "Had she not had it, it could've be fatal."
Premi helps veterans find housing and makes monthly trips to area hospitals to visit with veterans through the VFW.
Outside of the VFW, Premi volunteers with Oregon's Honor Flight, a nonprofit organization that takes World War II veterans to see the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
He volunteers on an even greater level around the holidays, "adopting" local veteran families to give gifts and invite them to special events, including Intel's holiday party, he said.
Intel encourages its employees to volunteer and even boasts an internal resource page for employees to find organizations to volunteer with, Premi said. The company will also match personal donations made by employees and give an hourly amount to the organizations for each hour an Intel employee volunteered.
Premi joined the Navy at age 17 to receive a college scholarship.
"I had no intention of having the Navy as a career," Premi said, "or even staying longer than the minimum."
Premi served for 17 years, in the Persian Gulf and was stationed out of Southern California, he said.
Using the computer science degree he earned at the University of Southern California, Premi applied for a job at Intel on a whim and moved to Oregon in 1997, where he has worked for the last 21 years.
Premi said volunteerism is something everyone can do more of.
"I think my involvement and my passion for (volunteering) has grown because if you do something and you're good at it and you can repeat it, you're compelled to do it more," Premi said. "Everybody can be a good volunteer, you just have to have empathy and you have to listen and not judge."
Nine other finalists chosen worldwide for the award will all receive $2,500 donation toward the organization of their choice.
By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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