I never realized how much participating and giving to this organization would impact me professionally. When I took a job as a teller for Zions Bank over 20 years ago, it was a role I had envisioned for myself since I was a young girl. Shortly after starting, I was introduced to United Way of Northern Utah through Zions Bank’s United Way giving campaign. I was impressed with the mission and reach of United Way and decided to participate in the campaign by donating a portion of my income through payroll deductions. My level of donation resulted in me being part of the 1% club (donors who give 1% of their annual salary). Shortly after, I received a call from the United Way thanking me for my donation! Bob Hunter, CEO, extended an invitation to lunch at Maddox and then a tour of the facility that benefitted from my ongoing donation.
I was nervous to go to lunch; it was early in my career and I hadn’t even been on a lunch appointment before. Plus, he was an important community leader and I didn’t feel like my contribution warranted his time. He assured me that my 1% was important and that everyone doing what they can do, is what matters. I accepted the invitation. I had no idea that the events of the day would help shape who I am today. I had focused so much on the lunch appointment itself, that I hadn’t given much thought to the tour that would follow.
Bob took me to a women and children’s shelter. He pointed out that the facility and its location weren’t public knowledge to protect those who sought shelter there. As we went inside I was warmly welcomed, he introduced me as an important donor, even with my modest contribution. As we toured the facility I met some of the residents. I heard their stories first-hand. Women my own age, in very different circumstances than my own. It was eye opening; it was emotional and it made my giving very personal.
I saw how United Way was making a difference; I had a face, and a name, and a story. What Bob and United Way gave me that day was a gift, worth so much more than my donation at the time. He helped me see why giving is so important, and how every one of us makes a difference.
Every year since then, I have supported United Way — even though I have am now in a different United Way community. I have been a member of United Way of Salt Lake’s Young Leaders and Women United Donor Networks. Professionally, I can honestly say serving in the community has been just as important to my career as any training, education, or experience I have had. We are all in the business of building relationships.
There is a bond that forms when you are working with others who are also dedicated to making our world a better place. My advice would be to get involved, give back, and make a difference where you can. Sir Winston Churchill said it best, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”