Organization: United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha & Pierce Counties
Volunteer Service: Since 2016
How did you get involved with this organization?
I have always done a lot of community work. When I moved to Minnesota five years ago, I wanted to continue to stay involved in my community and I knew United Way was always looking for help. I saw an article in their newsletter looking for volunteers for their Imagination Library program and I reached out to assist.
From there, I also volunteered to manage their Direct Your Dollars grocery program and Packing for the Weekend student meal program. Then, a year later, they asked me to serve on their Board of Directors as Treasurer.
How did you decide to join their Board of Directors?
I was already participating as a volunteer, and knew the staff and the organization’s mission, so I felt comfortable stepping into this role. Serving on their Board has allowed me to gain a better understanding of the organization and become more invested. As Treasurer, I had to learn about their funding, whether from charitable donations, government grants or other sources.
Has the pandemic affected your work at United Way?
The pandemic has made the needs in our community more apparent. United Way supports everything from housing to hunger and basic needs. We have seen the direct impact of our contributions because the number of people needing help has increased and donated funds are crucial to help us reach more people in need.
What have you found to be the most rewarding part of volunteering?
I think that when I started volunteering years ago it was about being in a position to give, but now I find it most rewarding to give so others can receive. I’ve been very fortunate in my life so I try to make someone else’s life easier through the time or resources I can provide. There are people in my community who go without basic needs—like diapers for their baby because they had to pay rent. The knowledge that my time or donations can help these families makes all of my efforts worthwhile.
How do you feel volunteering has changed you as a person?
It has allowed me to look beyond myself. We often get so consumed in our daily lives that we don’t stop to think how we are providing value to the community. There are a lot of people who could use a little bit of our time or are in need of something we’re in a position to share. I have found that what I give—like an hour of my time—is worth way more to the recipient.
Do you have a memorable experience you can share with us?
Recently, the Board of Directors spent about 10 hours applying for charitable grants, and we were approved for all of them. This small amount of effort on our part, which seemed like a lot at the time, will now ensure we have funding for the rest of the year to continue to help families in need.
What would you say to other colleagues thinking about joining a board?
I would highly encourage it. When we think about volunteerism, we often only think about one-time volunteer opportunities, but there are plenty of board and committee opportunities available. It takes your participation to another level. You’ll get a better understanding of the organization and how they use their dollars and time to impact our communities.
What advice would you give other colleagues looking to start volunteering?
I would tell anyone who is considering volunteering that it’s very rewarding—don’t be afraid to get started. It may seem intimidating to find an organization or activity you want to do. At Associated Bank, the Roots in Our Community volunteer platform is a great resource to look for events and get involved. Also, talk to other colleagues who volunteer or to the organization directly to learn more about available opportunities. I think you will find that once you get involved and see the impact on others, you’ll want to keep giving back and giving more.