Guest blog post by Melinda McNutt, loaned executive with United Way of Greater Cleveland
It is important for us to connect with our volunteers and learn why they choose United Way when they donate their time. Volunteers are the heart and soul of our United Way of Greater Cleveland. One volunteer, Mary, would tell you she gives her time because United Way helps the lives of real people every day. That is definitely a great reason to get addicted to the “pleasure buzz” of Living United.
Mary has volunteered as a United Way employee campaign manager for 20 years. The first time Mary experienced a United Way work place campaign was early in her career as a human resource manager. She said volunteers within the company decorated the office with campaign and goal posters. When it came time to listen to the United Way representative speak about United Way, one of the young men from the company stepped forward to explain that the little girl in the campaign poster that year was his niece. She had been very sick, but after receiving United Way help and services she made a full recovery.
Mary said that it completely changed her outlook right then and there. She was hooked. Raising money for United Way became a priority for her every year.
“Oh the contests we used to do, we would raise so much money,” she said. “We would always compete with each other to see who could give the most money.”
No matter what company Mary worked for, United Way always went with her, and she would be in charge of running the work place campaign. As a human resource manager, it is a part of her job to care for each of the people who walk through her office door.
“If someone was going through bankruptcy, I would tell them, ‘call United Way,’” she said. “If they were sick, I would tell them, ‘call United Way.’ They would always find the help that they needed.”
Mary said this year’s office campaign had a different feel after one of her co-workers had passed away.
“He didn’t have any family,” she said. “He was an only child and his parents are deceased, but he always gave a leadership donation to United Way. He would always walk around the office and tell everyone ‘You have to give to United Way. Don’t you realize there are kids out there that don’t even have coats to wear?’ I kept hearing his voice in my head this year as I was running the campaign. I think he was looking down on us, and others felt that when they were choosing whether to give.”
There are many different ways people can be a part of United Way: managing a work place campaign at your company, reading to children, or serving on our board are just a few.
The only thing that I will caution you of is that once you realize the impact you are having on the lives of others, you may become addicted to the “pleasure buzz” of volunteering!