United Way of South Hampton Roads Celebrates 100 Years of Caring and Volunteerism

United Way of South Hampton Roads Celebrates 100 Years of Caring and Volunteerism

Sponsored content by Mary McHugh, Brand Ave. Studios contributing writer

Work together, rise up together.

Volunteers at United Way of South Hampton Roads consider themselves “757 strong” — providing the tools, support and funding individuals need to succeed in life. And it’s not just handing out canned goods at a food drive.

Whether through time, talent or financial support, UWSHR has been connecting volunteers and donors of all skill levels and interests to programs they are most passionate about — often to volunteer options they may not know exist. Collectively, these individuals have shared their passion and resources with more than 180 United Way-supported and certified nonprofits throughout the 757 region.

“Our donors and volunteers are the pulse of our organization,” said Jason Inge, director of community investments for UWSHR. “Because of them, we have had a long history of making a significant impact in our community. Through their support, we are able to allocate time, effort and funding to education, economic mobility and health issues, all of which make up our mission.”

Inge said funding is also set aside to cover natural disasters and other unexpected community traumas.

Giving and volunteering touch the entire community

Of the $6 million in grant funds awarded this year alone, Inge said 46% went to programs focused on education, 30% to programs supporting health and 24% to programs to build economic mobility. The best part? UWSHR volunteer leaders themselves spend thousands of hours annually certifying agencies to ensure they have sound financial management and board governance capabilities before they are approved to work with United Way.

Volunteer leaders also review the requests for proposals submitted by the certified agencies for funding and support and make recommendations to the United Way board on how funding should be allocated, ensuring donated dollars are put to work where they are needed most.

Their efforts are supported by UWSHR’s technology, data quality and collective impact approach that ensures the organization achieves the maximum results and efficiency throughout the community. The data guides, for example, allow staff and volunteer leaders to track quality-of-life measures, highlight the areas of greatest need and home in on disparities to help set a vision for more impactful support. Through its collective impact approach, UWSHR brings together stakeholders from various sectors to share data and establish best practices with one goal in mind — strengthening 757 as a region.

“We are an organization of high transparency and accountability,” Inge said. “When you donate, whether as an individual or as a corporate entity, our rigorous system of checks and balances ensures that funding is allocated in a highly impactful way.”

Inge said financial support can take many forms, too. From planned gifts and legacy giving to corporate and tribute giving, donors lie at the heart of all programming. He said many donors end up serving on the front line as volunteers, too.

Endless opportunities for volunteers

Individuals can be connected to many different opportunities, either through UWSHR’s signature volunteer events or through their various programs and partner agencies

Signature events:

  • Day of Action – completing beautification projects at 757 schools
  • Day of Caring – the organization’s largest day of service, completing projects at partner agencies in the community
  • Holiday Extravaganza – sponsoring families and helping to make their holidays a bit more magical

Other volunteer opportunity examples:

  • Assembling family-sized meals for partner agencies
  • Installing family engagement trails in local parks
  • Mentoring students in 757 schools to increase social interaction
  • Beautifying grounds of local schools
  • Curating books for children to build their at-home libraries
  • Participating in special events through partner agencies
  • Making baskets and kits full of high-need items for partner agencies

The same holds true for corporations looking for ways to engage staff through team-building and networking. UWSHR’s engagement staff creates customized volunteer experiences that run the gamut from reading to children at local schools and hosting food drives to planning appreciation days for teachers at underserved schools and assembling kits of school supplies.

Become part of the powerful change in 757

To donate, volunteer or learn more about Day of Caring and other upcoming events and opportunities, please visit unitedwayshr.org or call 757.853.8500. Inquiries may also be emailed to volunteer@unitedwayshr.org.