Donors and volunteers shared with us why they choose to give to United Way of Lake County. We hope their stories motivate you to continue (or begin!) to choose United Way when you are asked to participate in your workplace giving campaign.
How long and in what ways have you been involved with United Way of Lake County?
I believe I joined Women United in September 2017. In my first year, I volunteered to participate in and support Women United’s Power of the Purse event and it was incredible! It’s such an extraordinarily complex event that is brilliantly managed by a group of women who seem to create miracles! They get so many companies and individuals to contribute; whether it’s donating goods, money, or time. I understood, after having volunteered in that event, why Power of the Purse is Women United’s flagship event. It takes such an incredible amount of time, dedication, and effort to pull it all together. I recommend volunteering to assist with Power of the Purse to any new member! It will help you understand the dedication and passion of the women in this group.
After volunteering in that event, I got involved in Women United’s Marketing committee. It’s a very small committee and we meet whenever we can, but we’re all very busy so we don’t meet often. We’ve made some progress with the marketing elements of the group and it’s been great!
If I could identify one thing I would like to change moving forward is that I would love to spend more time participating in Women United’s volunteer opportunities, events and more! It can be challenging because, in addition to working full time, I’m also pursuing a degree at Northwestern so my time is in short supply but whatever available time I do have I’m very happy to be able to donate it to Women United’s marketing effort.
What inspired you to become involved with United Way of Lake County?
It was a series of coincidences among a couple of people that invariably let to me attending one of Women United’s quarterly meetings, which just so happened to be held at my workplace. It was so convenient and I just had to check it out. It was like me becoming a member was meant to be!
What aspects of Women United do you connect most with and why?
In the past, I’ve worried about getting involved with a group like Women United because I thought if I commit to them and I fail on my commitment, then that will equate to failing to contribute. But the group is understanding and is so accommodating to their member’s busy lives. Women United’s guilt-free membership is extraordinary to me. Being able to contribute as much as I can, whenever I can, is really beneficial to me.
I also believe so deeply in making a difference for children. I feel my own passion resides with making a difference for children because, as so much research has shown, when you actually enable a human being during their developmental years, that makes a tremendous difference in their lives down the road. I feel a strong connection to helping children form the right habits and get the right education early in life because the payoff is so huge down the line.
Women United is such a wonderful group. I can’t speak highly enough about it. All the committees within Women United work together beautifully. They have divided up the areas that require attention in such a way that if you’re the type of person who is really into community outreach, there’s a committee for you. If you’re the type of person who can only donate hours after work, there’s a committee for you. There are things that you can do. They do such a nice job of creating a good fit depending on where your interests, talents and time reside.
Why do you think it is important to support United Way’s mission?
Women United focuses their time and efforts on early childhood development in Lake County’s most vulnerable communities. I really resonate with their mission and love to see the impact the group is making. I see early childhood development as one of the most critical areas where we, as a society, can make a big difference. Having meaningful, caring interventions with children can shape their impression of the world and, in turn, can help them become wonderful members of the community. You can’t understate the value of that type of effort because it stays with a child throughout his or her life.
What does education mean to you?
I did not follow a traditional educational path in my life. The normal path is you graduate from high school then you go to college immediately but, while I was in college, my mom had stage 4 breast cancer so I ended up leaving to take care of her and my younger brother and sister. After I left, I entered the workforce so I could help support the family, but I was greatly limited in my opportunities for work. I was able to get an entry level job in the marketing area but not having a college degree limited my options. I finally went back to school to get my undergraduate degree when I was about 30 and then went on to get a master’s degree in Communications from Northwestern. Now I’m back pursuing another master’s degree.
Education, for me, is kind of the key that unlocks so much potential. Not just for career opportunities, but it unlocks potential within. The internal journey that someone takes when he or she is exposed to education is extraordinary and you can’t put a dollar value on it. From personal experience, when I’ve been away from education, that impacted my life adversely, and when I got back into learning, it opened doors and improved me as a human being.
I think it’s because of that personal experience that I feel so passionate and dedicated to education and to children. I don’t have children myself, but my two 3-year-old nephews are my world! I’m putting away money for them now so that their lives are well supported by education.
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