Loaned Executives work with United Way staff during peak campaign season to assist with corporate campaigns for 3-4 months. We sat with some of the 2018 United Way of Greater Chattanooga Loaned Executives to find out what they’ve learned and what memories they’ll take with them.
What have you learned about the community during your time at UWGC?
Patrick Reilley: I learned what a big role United Way plays for nonprofits in the community. That’s what I’m hearing from individuals that speak on our behalf. Many nonprofits depend on United Way support to do what they do.
Victoria Baltz: There’s been lots of emotion – even in corporate environments. Many managers and executives are deeply touched by what United Way does for the community.
Adam Karlstadt: It’s been cool seeing how passionate people are in the workplace. Lots of managers and employees were driven and passionate. There are people here who believe in what we do and they’re doing what they can to see the community change.
Did you have any memorable experiences on the ‘campaign trail’ this year that you’d like to share?
Pat: One day, I was speaking to a workplace group of mixed levels of income, mostly men. The topic we focused on was domestic violence intervention, and I didn’t expect that message to resonate with the individuals listening that much. But, I remembered a time in my own family where we were looking for what to do for a family member in a violent situation, and I thought back to hearing about a nonprofit organization that I learned about in a very similar employee meeting I was sitting in years ago. I made sure to tell those employees that you never know what needs you will encounter in the future. The United Way provides such a wealth of resources that many people are unaware of. Another day, I was speaking to a large corporation and when I asked if anyone had heard of one of our partner agencies, an employee stood and told the group that her sibling had received services from that same organization for 30 years before passing away recently. It was humbling to see the reactions in the room as they saw that the help provided was closer than they thought.
Adam: During the Day of Caring, I was at the Chambliss Center for Children with Regions Bank employees doing landscaping and pressure washing the playground. I noticed the kids inside looking out the window and getting excited that the playground was getting cleaned. I got to meet some of the kids, and they kept asking, “Why are you on our playground?” When I told them we were cleaning it so they could play on it soon, it was cool to see their eyes light up. Another day, I was touring Orange Grove, and we were in one of their areas where they do packaging. I got to meet some of their care recipients and saw how full-of-life they are. It really made me appreciate life more to see how these people with developmental challenges have such a positive outlook on life.
Victoria: There’s been so much crying! (Good tears) It’s been great to tour the nonprofit agencies and see the work that’s being done. I particularly enjoyed going to Signal Centers and learning about their work.
Has your perspective on community issues changed? If so, how?
Pat: I’ve seen how eager people are to give when they can hear the story behind the dollars. It makes a big difference when people know exactly how their contributions are making a difference for real people.
Victoria: I came in really hopeful that people would want to give, and they did. Many people are so passionate, but sometimes people don’t connect. It’s interesting to quiz people about what they know about United Way and community needs, and it turns out they don’t know as much as they thought.
Do you intend to carry your experiences and caring spirit forward into your future endeavors? If so, how?
Victoria: Emerging Leaders will be great to be part of. I also appreciate the thorough education I have of the resources that are out there, because now I feel like I can help lead people who need help to resources they need.
Adam: I think this experience has made me want to be more genuine with people. Everyone has a story; you learn that from going out during campaign. You never know who you’re going to come across. This has been great to learn about the partnerships that are out there and how big the scope is of the services that are out there. I also look forward to being a small connecter and doing what I can to get people to help who need it.
Pat: I’m sure I’ll be connected to United Way somehow. I would advise anyone considering involvement with United Way to keep an open mind and to be ready for a rewarding experience.