A Conversation with Judi Austin, a Day of Caring Volunteer
As part of our 25th anniversary celebrations, we sat down with Judi Austin to discuss her experience as a Day of Caring volunteer.
How long have you been participating in Day of Caring or when was your first Day of Caring? How long has your workplace been participating?
I did start at the beginning. Initially, I just volunteered through my employer, TD Bank, which put the ask out there for volunteers. We were encouraged to participate and always received recognition for doing so. When I got in a position where I could offer the opportunity to my employees, I did, always balancing coverage internally. I chaired the Committee one year and continued to participate every year until recently as I now watch my granddaughters on Thursdays. .
Describe your experience on the Day of Caring Committee.
When I was on the committee, we each took a piece of it – from outreach to companies and volunteer recruitment to reviewing what worked and what didn’t, changing it over the years based on feedback. I enjoyed the connections I made serving on the Day of Caring Committee, and other United Way committees, such as the Kenneth Jordan Higgins Scholarship Committee and the UNITED We Thrive Awards Review Committee.
Did you ever attend the kickoff? How did it make you feel?
Yes! I remember when it was a big thing up in Monument Square and we all wore special shirts. There was just an energy that was unbelievable!
What was your most memorable or favorite experience/project?
I had a new manager from Canada and I was asked to help him get to know the community here. Conveniently, Day of Caring was coming right up, so I said, “Mike, we have this great opportunity, and you’ll even get a t-shirt! (laughing) We’ll work together and go to Presumpscot School where I went when it was a two story wooden schoolhouse.” It was so special for me to go back to my old neighborhood and bring him along and watch him have a delightful experience becoming involved. It was great when the principal came out with a student during lunch and they talked about how important it was and how thankful they were for the changes we made.
Can you talk a little about the impact of Day of Caring? How has it affected you, your company/colleagues/employees?
Day of Caring helps employees get involved with United Way and gives them a better understanding of what the organization does. In my experience, when our company held a rally for the campaign, people who had participated in Day of Caring were already familiar with United Way and always brought up their memories. Hearing about Day of Caring from colleagues would encourage more people to want to participate the next year.
Day of Caring is a great tool for corporate team building. At TD Bank, it’s part of employees’ job descriptions to be involved in the community, and Day of Caring helps them build connections with local nonprofits and people from other companies. The day shows them how important the work is and gives them a clear sense of accomplishment, and it even leads to some of them to continue volunteering after the fact.
How does participating in Day of Caring affect your relationship with UWGP?
I always kind of knew what United Way was but didn’t know that so many agencies were supported.