Volunteering is one way to experience different communities. For some employees at the Torrance Refinery, volunteer activities are an extension of their vibrant and dynamic family life through which important life lessons can be learned.
Torrance Refining Company (TORC) employee Rudy Rojas was quick to share his thoughts about one particular employee volunteer who embodies this idea, “Sal has always been that way! He would drive hours to someone if they need help fixing something up or building something.” Rudy’s familiar comment stems from his close relationship with his co-worker Sal – who just happens to be his brother.
In speaking with Rudy, one quickly discovers he shares his brother’s desire to help others, “To me, volunteering shows one’s character. Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you. It’s been an honor to call the Torrance Refinery home over the last 20-years. In response, I feel we should give back to the refinery and the community whenever the opportunity arises.”
The Rojas brothers – Sal, Rudy, and Joey – are brothers who work at the Torrance Refinery. They are among many families with multiple generations of family members who have worked at the Refinery throughout the years. The Rojas brothers represent the third generation in their family to work in the oil and gas industry. One can say the Rojas family likes spending time together because in addition to working together, they also take time to participate in the Torrance Refinery’s Workforce Involvement Program (WIP), which offers activities that support the Refinery’s civic and nonprofit partners. For the Rojas brothers, volunteering is a family affair.
When WIP opportunities arise, Sal responds with enthusiasm, often being one of the first employees to offer his assistance. Notably, Sal’s response also often means the involvement and support of other members of the Rojas family. For example, in February 2020, Sal’s wife joined the Refinery employee volunteers to help clean the North Torrance Little League fields in preparation for a Spring season that unbeknownst to all, would be cancelled due to COVID-19. Fortunately, young athletes have since been able to use this clean facility.
At that time, Sal’s sister, whose husband also works at the Refinery, came to represent him while he was at work and brought along their daughter. Sal explained, “We love to give back. Torrance Refinery feels like my first home as we spend most of our time here and it’s been really good to me and my family. The volunteer activities help teach my daughters, nephews, and nieces to give back. In our family, we try to reinforce the importance of helping others as much as we can.” This means they come together and represent one another when work schedules or other commitments might prevent other siblings from participating in community outreach activities.
And give back they do. Last holiday season, the Rojas family members contributed to the Refinery’s Adopt-a-Family initiative in partnership with the Salvation Army, giving gifts to families in need so they can have a wonderful holiday celebration.
Sal, Rudy, and Joey combined have worked more than 44 years at the Torrance Refinery and belong to a group of employees who demonstrate the value that the oil and gas industry brings to our neighbors’ lives and the community. According to an economic impact study, every refinery job in California supports 15 more jobs in the economy. This bears out in the Rojas family. Their other sibling Moses works for a contract company that also supports refinery activities.
Like many Refinery employees, the Rojas brothers speak passionately about the value their jobs bring to their lives. Rudy recounted how through his dad, he and his siblings were exposed to refinery jobs at an early age, which led them to consider working in the industry as soon as they were able. Looking back, he reflects on how this decision had a life-changing impact.
“We lived in a tough neighborhood,” Rudy shared candidly. “I believe that working here, with the strict procedures and safety protocols, kept me and my brothers from going down the wrong path in life. To this day, my mother says our refinery jobs are a blessing because with our jobs we matured faster, were able to create a good life for ourselves, buy our own homes and provide for our families. These experiences led us to a position where we can now help others – and that’s why our family volunteers when they can.”
Sal, who also volunteers at the Long Beach Veterans Hospital, added, “Lots of non-profits rely on volunteers. Without them, lots of things would not be possible.”
Indeed, through employees such as the Rojas brothers and others who participate in TORC’s WIP program, Refinery employees have supported the meaningful work many nonprofits perform to make a positive impact on the lives of those they serve.
In honor of National Volunteer Week in April, thank you to the Rojas brothers and all our employee volunteers, and their family and friends who join us in our Company efforts to give back to the community.