Words cannot express the gratitude we feel; and so to convey the meaningful and measurable impact that our volunteers have on us and the individuals and families we serve, we recently asked a group of volunteers what volunteering for United Way means to them.
United Way employees are as committed to giving of their time and talents as our volunteers. Libby Kircher, Resource Development Associate, is a regular volunteer at events including meal service at the Franciscan Center for the economically disadvantaged. “Many of the people I serve are homeless, and most of their contact with others is accepting money or a cup of coffee without any words. For someone to engage with them and have a conversation—to be treated like a real person—means so much.”
“[Project Homeless Connect Harford County] was by far one of the best experiences of my life. I helped a young mom get an ID, birth certificate, diapers, clothes and information about food pantries; a middle-aged gentleman secure housing at a shelter; and an older gentleman get a full health screening, haircut, blankets, jacket and brand new reading glasses after an eye exam. Sadly, homelessness affects people of all ages and backgrounds who can’t always access the services and help they need. I am proud to support the incredible work United Way of Central Maryland does for the people throughout Maryland.” –Kristi H.
“Just hearing the gratitude in clients’ voices after I have helped them get a tax appointment or a Thanksgiving [food] basket is heart-warming and satisfying.” –Nancy H., 2-1-1 Maryland United Way Helpline Volunteer
“The combination of seeing the impact in the community as well as working with other like-minded professionals is one of the primary reasons I devote time to United Way. The leadership is right there beside you, doing the work with their sleeves rolled up.” –Sonny T.
“I first heard about the United Way back in the 90’s when I moved here from New York to work for Visa International. The employer partnered with United Way, and every year, we were asked to make $1.00 donation for the charity. We were making good money, so I always gave a check for $10.00 without knowing that one day I would be involved in it or get help from it. After nearly six years of service, the company downsized and we were laid off. I had the hardest time getting another job or paying my bills, so I did turn to 2-1-1 for assistance. Also, a couple of years ago, my daughter was selected to work on the United Way project to schedule people for free tax preparation. I don’t believe it is by pure coincidence that I found myself on the similar project today.
[In a previous job,] I was trained to audit income tax returns and prepare new ones for low-income taxpayers. I signed up to assist the Baltimore Cash Campaign and was directed to 2-1-1.
It was a unique volunteering experience where I enjoyed the comradery, the collegiality of the entire staff. I was surprised by the fact that I could walk up to anybody and ask questions about my work and get answers. Even if the person were not familiar with my work, he/she would get the correct answer from the right person for me; I never got cold shoulders. I was even invited to enjoy the potlucks/snacks without reservation. It was simply amazing.
As an immigrant, I perfectly understand the burden of not being able to provide the basics for oneself or going through hardship altogether away from home because I have been through it myself. This country has been good to me every single day, especially during my difficult moments and I am very willing to lend a helping hand anytime I can.” –Edith A., 2-1-1 Maryland United Way Helpline volunteer
“Volunteers are important because as unpaid workers, it allows the organization to direct more funding toward its programs helping those in need.” –Morgana K.
“Personal finance is a passion of mine, so working the 2-1-1 Helpline during tax season was a great way to help others.” –Sarah K.
“I devote time and energy to United Way because I have seen the work and courage in action at the United Way Family Center at Benjamin Franklin High School, in the Dr. Seuss Reading Days, during Project Homeless Connect, on the 2-1-1 Helpline, during Stone Soup and while gleaning produce. I continue to devote myself to United Way because, despite all of these wonderful touch points, I believe I can do more to help the organization be a good citizen to this region’s most deserving and most challenged families.” –Talley K.
“A moment that changed my own life was when I was doing a follow-up survey. The man on the line vented [about] his personal hardships, and actually thanked me for listening to him and told me that I had a good heart.” –Domonikue C.
“I believe volunteers are the backbone of United Way. Without them, I’m not sure how everything would get done.” –Krissy A.
“When my daughter and I volunteered at the Annapolis Lighthouse, it was so fulfilling when one of the clients came in and thanked us. I try to get my daughter to understand that everyone is not as blessed as she is. I think she really got to see the impact of being there and doing something for someone less fortunate than herself.” –Liz R.
“What have I most enjoyed about the volunteer work? Meeting new people. Oh, and doing things I’ve never done, like picking corn.” –Holly D.
“You always house valuable things in a safe place. You put money in the bank, jewels in a safe. I choose to ‘house’ my time in a safe place and United Way definitely qualifies. The volunteer opportunities truly speak to my core values.” -Phyllis A.
“My most memorable volunteer experience was when my best friend and I gave the women and children at Druid Hill YWCA a Christmas party. To see the looks on the mothers’ and children’s faces was priceless. It touched my heart knowing that I could give back and make an impact in the lives of others.” –LeShawn B.
“In my career as a social worker, I know how frustrated people can get when they have to make call after call to find something helpful, and they wind up feeling like there is no help out there for them. I came to United Way because I like its 2-1-1 Helpline—a clearinghouse/central organization to help people find resources.” –Nancy H.