Why Volunteers are So Important to LIVE UNITED 2020- By Wendy DuBoe

Wendy DuBoe at the LIVE UNITED 2020 launch in September

Submitted on behalf of Wendy DuBoe, Interim Chief Executive Officer at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. Volunteerism is vital to a just society, fostering civic responsibility, participation and interaction. It strengthens communities by increasing their capacity to identify and respond to human needs. Volunteers create relationships at the personal level that are an essential part of the fabric of our community. In particular, with public funding of the non-profit community at an all-time low, non-profits are becoming more creative about utilizing volunteers to the fill the resource gap. While volunteerism used to be seen as a way to encourage someone to donate, today non-profits value volunteers for their time as much as their dollars. Locally, United Way volunteers are critical to achieving LIVE UNITED 2020, our 10-year vision to transform communities of greatest need across our six-county footprint by helping 100,000 more households become financially stable, providing 200,000 more individuals with access to quality health services, ensuring 50,000 more middle school students transition to high school successfully, and continuing to serve the needs of 1 million people in crisis with emergency food, shelter and financial assistance. We know that change won’t happen without them. Their time, talent and resources are essential to the on-the-ground work our communities need to make LIVE UNITED 2020 a reality. In fact, more than 7,000 United Way volunteers saved our partner agencies $314,200 through 14,065 donated hours in 2011 alone. Let me take a minute and highlight some of the ways our volunteers are bringing us closer to LIVE UNITED 2020:
  • Employees from Illinois Tool Works hosted a United Way School Supply Drive and then created school-ready kits for a community school in the Englewood neighborhood.
  • The Private Bank employees put their financial savviness to the test when they taught The Money Savvy Kids Financial Education Program at the Kelly Hall YMCA.
  • More than 400 employees from KPMG lent a hand at a local middle school. Volunteers built shelves, painted, organized the library and cleaned classrooms.
  • Microsoft employees volunteered at the Safer Foundation, a United Way partner organization, and helped participants improve their interview skills and prepare to succeed in the workforce.
  • Volunteers have been assisting low-income families on their tax returns throughout our 6-county footprint with United Way partners Ladder Up and the Center for Economic Progress.
  • A team from Northern Trust gathered at the Cara Program, a United Way Partner Organization, to work with job-seekers on interview skills.
  • Eli Lilly employees volunteered at a Rauner YMCA childcare program. Volunteers helped kids with their homework, played card/board games, and assisted with arts and crafts.
Even at United Way we have benefited by the skills brought to us by Grant Thornton volunteers, assisting with creating an analysis of agency financial strength. This effort will help safe-guard our investments within the agencies United Way supports. The United Way team works with our partner organizations to create strategic volunteerism, identify both skills- and non-skills based volunteer needs, and actively matches these opportunities to the right volunteer. And there are United Way volunteer opportunities available right now! Volunteer at our LIVE UNITED 5K, read to children at a local elementary school, sign up to provide free-tax help to families in need. For more information visit our volunteer site. Sincerely,

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