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TOTE President Tim Nolan’s service on the board of a Florida nonprofit sparked a fundraising firestorm strengthened by Saltchuk companies’ overarching commitment to community.

When TOTE President/CEO Tim Nolan first moved his family to Florida 10 years ago, he was struck by the sense of community—of closeness—that surrounds the uniquely diverse city of Jacksonville.

“There’s a sense of commitment to those around you that’s really quite special,” he said. “A neighbor and friend of mine was serving as the chairman of the Dreams Come True Board and invited me to join. The gratitude my wife Jeanine and I have, having been blessed with three healthy children, helped me realize that I should somehow try to give back.”

Dreams Come True (DCT), a local organization founded nearly 40 years ago by business leaders who were also friends, fulfills the dreams of children from nearby areas of Florida and Georgia with life-threatening illnesses. Since 1984, DCT has granted dreams to more than 4,300 children.

“DCT’s mission is brought to life through the dedication and passion of its incredible staff, many hundreds of volunteers, and the community partnerships it has with companies like TOTE.

Pierce poses with two tropical fish he caught.

Pierce’s dream

Nolan has served as president of the DCT Board of Directors for the past two years. Last summer, he learned that a local seventeen-year-old “dreamer” named Pierce, who’d spent years battling lymphoblastic leukemia, had asked for a fishing trip to Hawaii with his parents.

Nolan reached out to fellow Saltchuk leaders Bert Valdman, president of NorthStar Energy, and Jason Childs, president of Saltchuk Marine, to see if either had any connections via their Hawaiian operating companies that might help offset the cost of the trip.

“Both jumped on the opportunity, and it wasn’t long before Pierce had two deep-sea fishing trips booked free of charge,” Nolan said, one coordinated by Kimo Haynes, president of Hawaii Petroleum, and one by Jay Ana, president of Young Brothers.

“The spirit of ‘ohana,’ of family, is sacred to our island communities,” Ana said. “Not only were we happy to step up for a member of our Saltchuk family, we wanted Pierce and his family to feel that spirit of ohana and remember their magical trip to our healing islands for the rest of their lives.”

In August, Pierce flew from Jacksonville to Oahu with his parents. He fished, explored, dove, and surfed his way through Hawaii.

“It’s these simple moments in life that inspire Saltchuk companies to come together to create,” Nolan said.

Saltchuk working together

“TOTE is arguably one of the most active and visible companies with regard to community engagement and willingness to step up when help is needed,” said David Karp, senior vice president and managing director of Saltchuk Alaska.

One of DCT’s largest fundraising events is an annual 5K run in Jacksonville. This year, nearly 350 TOTE employees, families, and friends participated. Combined with a corporate financial match, TOTE raised $80,000 to help fulfill the dreams of 662 local children like Pierce.

“It was a great collaborative effort by all TOTE companies, and I want to thank all TOTE employees, families, and friends who participated in making this year’s Dreams Come True Event so successful,” Nolan said. “Our overarching philosophy is on improving the quality of life for the people and communities we serve. We’ll continue the focus we’ve had for decades— supporting the people and communities in Alaska and Puerto Rico, doing what we can to enhance opportunities for young people, driving economic opportunity, and helping those in need.”

But, like many of its sister companies, TOTE has also zeroed in on the next generation.

“Looking ahead, one of the areas I see us focusing on is helping young people in our communities realize the economic opportunities in the maritime industry,” Nolan said.

“One of the best parts about being involved with the Saltchuk family of companies is that we have a unique ability to work together amongst our companies to provide meaningful support in meeting the needs of the communities we serve,” concluded Karp.

Hilary Reeves

Hilary Reeves spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining the Saltchuk family of companies as a consultant. Since People of Saltchuk launched in 2014, Reeves has interviewed more than 200 Saltchuk employees from operating companies all over the world. Born in Tacoma, Washington, Reeves is a former president of both the collegiate and local professional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists, a graduate of the Society’s Ted Scripps Leadership Institute, and a Toastmaster. When she’s not writing, she loves to read, ski, and practice the piano. She lives in West Seattle with her husband and two young daughters.