By Carissa Woytach, United Way of Greater Cleveland Staff Writer
Leticia Prado, an administrative coordinator at Rockwell Automation, has spent the past 10 years giving back to the organization that helped her decades ago. She has always been heavily involved in her community, through volunteering and activism, but Prado felt she needed to pay it forward by working with United Way.
“When I was younger I was married, divorced and my child was little,” she said. “It was a hard time for me – raising a child on my own, working and trying to maintain a home. I didn’t get any help, financially or emotionally. It got so bad at times, I wanted to run away. The only thing that kept me going was my son.”
Prado’s employer, at the time, ran a United Way campaign, and her manager suggested she turn to the organization for counseling.
Through United Way, Prado was directed to an agency that provided counseling services at an important time in her life. “He was a very instrumental counselor, he helped me so much,” she said. “He helped me get through what I needed to get through, and I have never forgotten it.”
Prado has worked at Rockwell for most of that time, but many of the companies she has been involved with have run United Way campaigns. Rockwell contributes to Greater Cleveland’s campaign, but also participates in its own Days of Action, large-scale volunteer events organized for companies and community members by United Way’s Engagement Center.
Prado tries to take part in Days of Action twice a year, she said. She has done three Days of Action so far, including volunteering at the Hospice of the Western Reserve and Providence House Inc.
“It’s nice Rockwell allows us time to help the community this way,” she said.
At Hospice of the Western Reserve, volunteers helped with spring cleaning of kitchens for families and sprucing up the exterior. Prado says she enjoyed it very much.
Prado especially enjoyed working at Providence House, where volunteers cleaned the building inside and out. Providence House Inc. is a crisis shelter that helps children who have been victims of abuse and neglect. They receive donations, which volunteers helped sort into age and size categories for staff to distribute.
“Their basement is full of all their donations, so we went in and organized,” she said. “I went in the corner where they have pampers and wipes and training pants. We had to organize it by age group — thousands and thousands of them. We got to meet some of the kids; it was very, very enjoyable.”
Prado also volunteers with Forbes House, the Moose Association, Elks and Harvest for Hunger. She plans to continue activism for children affected by substance abuse, veterans suffering from PTSD and has a growing interest in communities’ access to clean water.
But her connection with United Way has never waned. She has strived to engage others at Rockwell in giving and volunteerism, be it with United Way or in their local communities.
“I had to use United Way at one point in my life, and I did get the help I needed. And now, I need to pay it forward,” she said. “United Way helped me, and you never know in your lifetime when you’re going to need them.”