During National Volunteer Week, we are highlighting the efforts of several key UWGP volunteers. We hope you enjoy their interviews and are inspired by their service to our community! Looking for a new opportunity to give back? Check out http://volunteer.unitedwaygp.org.
Samuel Ledue, Site Location Analyst II, RBS, An Ahold Delhaize USA company
How did you get involved in volunteering with United Way of Greater Portland?
I was pulled into United Way of Greater Portland in 2016 as a Loaned Executive. [Loaned Executives are employees who are loaned to United Way from local companies and focus on fundraising during United Way’s annual campaign.] I knew I supported United Way and the festivities and volunteer opportunities that they put together, but I didn’t know a whole lot about United Way itself and its internal working. When I became a Loaned Executive, I began to understand a whole lot more.
You’ve also held a couple of other roles with us. Can you share a little more about those?
I’ve been on a couple review committees. Basically, applications are submitted to United Way for a couple different purposes, and people of all different walks of life are needed to review these applications.
I served on the review committee for the UNITED We Thrive Awards [UWGP’s community awards process which celebrates and recognizes some of the amazing organizations and individuals helping our community thrive through their work to improve quality of children’s early learning experiences, increase opportunities for people to build financial stability, and/or improve people’s health]. I was also a member of the Impact Investing Committee for the Brick and Beam Society, and am currently part of the review committee for the 2019 United Way Community Investments.
For someone who is unfamiliar with that process, can you describe a little about what goes into it as a volunteer?
As review committee members, we read the applications and then give them quantitative grades. These grades are then used to make a recommendation to a steering committee about who should receive funding or awards.
Out of all of the ways you’ve volunteered with us, do you have a particular favorite?
I would say I enjoyed the Loaned Executive program the most so far. I learned a whole lot in a short amount of time and was able to teach the community about it. It was pretty overwhelming but you learn a lot when you’re pushed out of your comfort zone. Public speaking was one thing I had to do—to stand in front of people and talk about something that I was just learning myself.
You may have started to touch on this a little but what skills have you used while volunteering with UWGP?
One skill I’ve used while volunteering with United Way was collaboration with my peers and my mentors. You learn different things from your peers than you do from your mentors. I’ve also practiced my public speaking and leadership skills. In front of a group, you have to have a certain presence to make people understand and agree with you.
What have you learned from this experience?
I’ve learned a whole lot in my roles with United Way. Not just about the organization, but about my peers and myself. When you’re pushed outside of your comfort zone, you grow the most I believe. What makes you uncomfortable are the things you don’t quite understand, so as you gain a better understanding of them you become more comfortable.
We also learned a bit about strategy, and it’s amazing, you wouldn’t always think to invest time in thinking about the strategy of a business or an organization, but once you understand the strategy, it’s easier to convince other people about the benefits.
Additionally, before I began volunteering with United Way, I didn’t quite understand the magnitude of organizations that help the community that aren’t necessarily supported by a government entity. They’re doing it by themselves and that’s why they reach out to United Way for funding and help through volunteerism.
What keeps you coming back to UWGP since you’ve held a couple different roles with us?
I believe in United Way’s go-to-business strategy. Organizations themselves do not have the ability to fundraise in the way that they need to cover the programs that they sponsor, and so that is a part of the program that United Way adds to the organizations that do the great work themselves. I come back to United Way because they support all of the organizations that I believe are beneficial to this community. Without those organizations, we’d have a lot of unmet needs in the community. United Way provides a way for all of us to work together to make sure needs are met.
What impact do you feel that you’ve made while volunteering with us?
The impact I’ve made as a volunteer with UWGP has been through my peer-to-peer mentorship. I have taught others about United Way, I have used my public speaking and my organizational skills to further United Way’s campaign, and I use my time the best I can on the review committees and volunteering outside of that.
For someone that is just starting to think about volunteering, what advice would you share?
Look for as many opportunities in as many different areas as you can. Outside your comfort zone, you learn the most. Don’t stay necessarily within the things that you do or the things that you like. Try to reach out and go beyond that, and you’ll find the most fulfillment.
Do you have a story from your volunteering experiences?
One thing that sticks out to me is the conference room that Loaned Executives were stationed in within United Way’s office. We called it the “War Room,” because that’s where it all happened. There was a U-shaped table of ten people all doing the same thing. We were all on the phones talking to different people but all progressing with the same goal in mind and helping each other along the way. It was new to all of us, and we learned a lot from each other as well as from our mentors, United Way, and the community.
Any final thoughts to share about volunteerism?
In volunteerism, you make friends, and I find that to be one of the most beneficial things. You definitely help organizations and the community, but the friends you make along the way are part of your journey, as well as the journey of the community. You share stories and experiences, and you learn from each other. You create bonds. Especially as Loaned Executives, after ten weeks together you create bonds that are unbreakable.