I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting over the past week about my time at United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area. I still remember sitting in class my junior year at Mary Baldwin College listening to an alumna speak about pouring her passion for helping others into her local United Way. That was the first time I realized that I could put my skills in planning and organizing into a career with a nonprofit.
Here I am several years later realizing that vision I had that moment became a reality in my time with the United Way. My love for color-coded folders, to-do lists and planning months in advance has turned into successful United Way Laurence E. Richardson Day of Caring events, a book drive, an inaugural United Way Family Volunteer Day and more. I have watched ideas grow and become real events that have hopefully made an impact during my time here.
While I can only hope that I’ve made a difference on our community, I know that my time here has made a difference on me. I’ve met people who have inspired me to be more kind, more active, more engaged and more motivated. I’ve made friends that I will stay connected with forever. I became a mom for the first time and was lucky to have board members and colleagues who encouraged me and supported me in my quest to be a hands-on mother and a reliable, hard working employee. I also realized that not everything can be planned out perfectly and that sometimes, life is all about the adventure.
Now, it’s time for me to start a new adventure with my family. Our boxes are packed and we’re headed from the land of orange and blue to the city of black and gold. From the bottom of my heart, I thank each of you for your support, your encouragement and your patience as I have grown into this role. It’s a bittersweet day for me to leave behind a role that has been so rewarding to me. I am excited, though, to meet new people and find new ways to plug into my new community. I’ve been told that I need to learn the lingo of Pittsburgh, so I’ll say this one more time to an audience who will understand me…thanks for everything, y’all! Take care!
Posted by: Jessica Snyder, United Way Volunteer Center Director
Note: United Way staff are providing a seamless transition in carrying on Jessica's responsibilities. Kim Connolly, Vice President of Community Engagement is leading the Volunteer Center as well as the United Way Laurence E. Richardson Day of Caring, with the able assistance of Megan Borishansky, our Information and Referral Specialist. We are here to help you with your volunteer needs. Call us at 434.972.1701.
When we opened the doors on our first United Way Family Volunteer Day last Saturday, almost immediately one very sweet little girl bounced up to our table asking about learning to sew a blanket. I explained to her that she may not learn to sew, but she could definitely help decorate a blanket square that would go into a blanket for a child who was sick. She responded “So my blanket square will help another kid feel better and then they can go home from the hospital with their family and not be sick anymore? What about the kids with no family? What about the children who are poor?”
Her quick response left me completely speechless. Without knowing it, she proved to me why we need the United Way Family Volunteer Day and she reminded me that kids want to help. At such a young age, she completely understood that there were people struggling with illness and poverty and she wanted to help. She was excited to help.
We had 86 children come through this first United Way Family Volunteer Day, most spending over an hour (some stayed for 3 hours!) doing hands on projects that would help. Some were young and colored outside of the lines. Some were teens looking for community service opportunities. But the only thing that mattered on Saturday was that they cared and that they were excited to help others.
While there may not be a lot of volunteer opportunities suitable for small children, I encourage parents to be creative. Talk to your kids about volunteering and about the needs in our community. Find ways that they can get hands-on in the efforts to make our community a better place, whether that is collecting food for a food pantry, writing letters to soldiers or visiting a lonely neighbor. Search for any chance to help plant the seed that there are people with no family and there are people who are sick or poor and that we all have the power to make an impact.
Posted by: Jessica Snyder, United Way Volunteer Center Director
Calling all volunteers!
June may be the kickoff of summer and the start of vacation season, but for our staff at United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area, June is a kickoff for a summer and fall of exciting events. From new events for kids to our 23rd annual United Way Laurence E. Richardson Day of Caring, our staff members are making lists, sending emails, and coordinating with local nonprofits and businesses to promote volunteerism in our community.
On Saturday, June 21, we are holding our first United Way Family Volunteer Day and wrap up our United Way Book Drive. We encourage you to bring your family to the cafeteria of Albemarle High School on Saturday, June 21st between 10am and 2pm to work on hands-on projects for local nonprofits like designing blanket squares, making greeting cards and knitting simple hats. We’ll also be collecting new and gently used books for children 6 months to 12 years old for our book drive at the event. Come join us and our sponsors, CharlottesvilleFamily magazine and Charlottesville Newsplex for a day of family fun! There will be face-painting and the opportunity to take a photo with a cut-out of University of Virginia baseball coach Brian O'Connor, honorary chair of the local Move2Health campaign.
We’ve also just launched registration for the 23rd United Way Day of Caring on our new Volunteer Center website. All schools and nonprofits can follow these steps to get projects submitted for the Day of Caring and interested teams should
their team name, team leader’s name, team leader’s email and an estimated number of teammates. Our new Volunteer Center website will make this process will be much easier for teams and nonprofits this year.
We can't accomplish our 3 goals of School Readiness, Self-Sufficiency and Community Health without an engaged community of volunteers. It is our hope that by helping families volunteer together through our United Way Family Volunteer Day and by giving opportunities for employees of local buinesses to work as teams on local projects through our United Way Day of Caring, that more and more of you will be inspired to volunteer year round.
"There is no better exercise for your hear than reaching down and helping to lift someone up." -- Bernard Meltzer
Our friends at Ivy Provisions, on Ivy Road next to St. Anne's Belfield upper school campus, have listened to their loyal customers and have started serving dinner in addition to their very popular breakfast and lunch sandwiches. To celebrate, they will donate 10% of your dinner tab to United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area on Wednesday, June 11.
All you need to do is tell them that you are there to support our United Way on Wednesday evening. You support a locally owned business, while also helping local residents.
That's right - you can help local children succeed in school, adults become self-sufficient and everyone live healthier lives in our community.
Head on over to Ivy Provisions on Wednesday, June 11 between 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm for dinner - you'll be in for a treat and we'll be making a difference!
Posted by: Kim Connolly
We all know that the Golden Rule says to treat other people as you would want to be treated. Parents are always looking for ways to instill compassion and generosity in their children.
Several times a month, we get phone calls from local parents wondering how they can teach their children to think about other's people's needs and to understand that not everyone has many of the things they take for granted. However, it can be hard to find volunteer opportunities appropriate for children under 14. Our first United Way Family Volunteer Day is a way to help families share the spirit of giving and learn about volunteer opportunities in our community.
The United Way Family Volunteer Day takes place on Saturday, June 21st from 10am until 2pm in the cafeteria of Albemarle High School. Several local nonprofits will have manned stations where children can help design blanket squares, knit simple hats, write letters to soldiers, create early literacy kits, make toys for animals and more! We also encourage families to bring new or gently used books for children aged 6 months to twelve years old to donate to the United Way Book Drive.
We are thrilled to partner with the Charlottesville Newsplex and Charlottesville Family Magazine to bring you this event.
Posted by: Jessica Snyder
This Saturday, May 10, something wonderful will happen across our region. People will thoughtfully place purchased nonperishable food items in bags or boxes and leave them by their mailboxes. Soon, their letter carriers will come by on their routes and leave their vehicles to retrieve the food. A few hours later, they will back their heavily loaded vehicles up to the loading dock at the post office where volunteers will be waiting to unload, weigh and sort the cans, bags and boxes of food. In Charlottesville, those volunteers are from the Monticello Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, a group that has adopted this event as an annual community service day. The bins they fill are then place in waiting tractor trailers and brought to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank’s warehouse.
Saturday is the national Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, put on by letter carriers across the country. Our United Way has partnered with the letter carriers on this drive for at least a decade, recruiting volunteers and publicizing the day. Last year, 40,000 pounds of food passed through the main branch of the post office in that one day. Regionally, another 30,000 pounds of food was received in various post offices. Michael McKee, CEO of the food bank, points out that this one-day drive is critical to stocking the food bank for the summer months when kids are home from school and donations slow down.
Please remember to add a few of these most-needed items to your chopping cart and place them in the bag provided by your letter carrier (or your own bag or box) and leave them by your mailbox on Saturday. The 120,000 people the food bank serves each month - kids, families and seniors - thank you.
Posted by: Kim Connolly
Tuesday, May 6, 2014 is Give4Good, a local day of giving organized by the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation (CACF) It is a one-day, 24 hour, online giving event to promote philanthropy in Charlottesville, Albemarle, Buckingham, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Nelson, and Orange. More than $32,000 in matching funds and cash prizes are offered as prizes to the nonprofits with the most donors that day and those raising the greatest amounts.
We encourage you to show your support for our local work in School Readiness, Self-Sufficiency and Community Health. You will be demonstrating your understanding that programs like our United Way Child Care Scholarships and Prescription Assistance program change lives.
So please, on May 6, visit our donation page on the Give4Good website, and show your support. Help us to leverage your gift through the prizes being offered.. You'll be helping children get mentors, parents learn the skills they need to increase their employability, women receive important prenatal care and so much more.
Posted by: Kim Connolly