Category: Emerging Leaders

Meet Emerging Leaders Member, Arielle Sadler

We recently caught up with Arielle Sadler, a member of the Emerging Leaders Executive Committee and Senior Technical Writer & Trainer at Texas Mutual Insurance Company. We have loved working with Arielle on the Emerging Leaders Executive Committee for the past year. Her light, drive, and tireless advocacy are just a few of the reasons we think you should get to know her too.  Arielle is passionate about making sure everyone in our community has a “fighting chance” to meet their full potential. Learn from Arielle herself  why she is proud to be a member of Emerging Leaders: Q&A with Arielle Sadler Why is fighting poverty important? My dad was homeless at one point and the continuous impact that has had on his life and mine is significant. Giving people the opportunity to have a fighting chance – to not have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, where they are going to lay their heads down at night – so that they can focus on educating themselves and their children means a better community for us all.  Describe your favorite volunteer opportunity with United Way for Greater Austin. My favorite opportunity with United Way came in Summer 2019. I was part of Texas Mutual’s Employee Engagement committee and volunteered to lead a back-to-school drive with United Way. I’d been volunteering with several organizations for years, but I’d never had the chance to lead an initiative. I arranged to have members of our call center decorate and […]

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Meet Patrick, a member of Emerging Leader passionate about connecting with our community

Photo: Patrick Mercer, Dr. Alison Bentley, and Sara Reeves.  This week we caught up with Patrick Mercer, a member of the Emerging Leaders Executive Committee and Assistant Vice President, Wellness Director at Frost Insurance Agency. Patrick is passionate about connecting with our community and giving back to the Greater Austin community that has given him so much. Check out our interview with Patrick to learn more about his “why” for joining Emerging Leaders and being involved with United Way ATX. “[I am involved with United Way] first and foremost because of the people,” Mercer said. “It seems like everybody that I have met, whether it is a staff member or a volunteer, has a heart for service and giving back. They have a heart for creating opportunities for people.” Want to know more about Patrick? How long have you lived in Austin? 15 years! What is your favorite thing about Austin? Weather allows most outdoor activities to be enjoyed year-round. What is a fun fact about you that you wish everyone knew? I’ve been attacked by a mountain lion. “Patrick has been a dynamic and essential member of the Emerging Leaders Executive Committee for the past two years, leading the effort to relaunch this group and make an impact on the lives of so many here in Central Texas. Patrick also always has an incredible story to tell and is such a joy to be around.” – Jennifer Woods| Donor Relations Manager, United Way for Greater Austin To learn more […]

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An interview with Emerging Leaders Co-Chair, Kaisha Morton

Photo above: Emerging Leaders Emily Gonzales, Kaisha Morton, and Jeremiah Bentley.  At United Way for Greater Austin, we are committed to fighting poverty and racism in our communities. These forces are so interconnected, we cannot address one without the other.  This week we caught up with Kaisha Morton, one of our new Emerging Leaders Co-Chairs and User Experience Recruiter and Women@ Social Impact Co-lead at Google to talk to her about diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community. Kaisha is a champion for creating a diverse workforce in our community to help break intergenerational poverty.  Check out our interview with Kaisha Morton to learn more about her work and her passion for creating a more diverse and inclusive community.  “I believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion are extremely important because all three of those are connected, but true equity in our society won’t happen unless we’re thinking about those three pillars. My work as an educator and also as a recruiter really highlighted for me that the gaps that exist early on for people who may live in poverty, especially communities of color, continue to widen as people progress in their lives and in their careers. I think that the layer of thinking through diversity, equity, and inclusion in all facets of life is something that I will always be passionate about.” -Kaisha Morton Want to know more about Kaisha Morton? How long have you lived in Austin? I moved to Austin from the D.C. area about two years ago.  […]

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YLS Members Volunteer at Webb Middle School Prom

On the eve before the last day of school, a group of dedicated UWATX Young Leaders Society members volunteered at Webb Middle School ‘prom,’ allowing teachers to take a small break from a very hectic week. The Webb prom is held to honor 8th grade students graduating from middle school. YLS members were excited to help celebrate the student’s hard work and academic achievements at this special event. Members helped set up red carpets, prepared tables and hung decorations from the walls of the gymnasium. Once the gym was prepped, YLS members stuck around and chaperoned the dance as the students danced the night away. YLS members had the opportunity to interact with Webb faculty and staff and some of the students they had volunteered with throughout the year. We asked two YLS members about their experiences volunteering at the Webb prom.   How long have you been involved with the Young Leaders Society? John Fahy: I have been involved with YLS for about three years now. I was one of the first community ambassadors for Kerbey Lane Cafe; Kerbey introduced me to YLS and gave me opportunities to pursue my passion for philanthropy. Ward Hoffman: I have been involved with YLS somewhere between two to three years. What was your favorite part of volunteering at the dance? John Fahy: My favorite part of volunteering at the dance was knowing how much we were helping the teachers and other staff members. It was the last week of school and they had so […]

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Recognizing Excellence in Corporate Philanthropy: 2015 Campaign Awards

At United Way for Greater Austin, we run more than 200 employee campaigns in nearly 700 locations in the Austin area. Employee campaigns provide an opportunity for businesses to empower employees to be philanthropists by donating a portion of each paycheck back to the community. Last night, we celebrated and recognized companies who excelled in building philanthropy in our community at our 2015 Employee Campaign Awards. Award winners: Best Practices: Superior Health and Texas Gas This award recognizes the company that implements UWATX’s best campaign practices, which include Senior Officer involvement, access to employees and use of UWATX campaign materials among several others. This year we had two winners for this award. Superior Health kept their campaign at one week to give a sense of urgency; they also planned a week of fun, educational experiences for their employees encouraging them to give. Texas Gas established multiple opportunities for UWATX staff to come and speak to their employees about our work, as well as ran a closed campaign where employee donations were matched 1:1 by their foundation. Community Investment Award: H-E-B The Community Investment Award represents a company or companies who exemplify what it really means to wrap arms around a community to make a significant impact. Anyone who shops at H-E-B realizes it’s not your normal grocery store. This year, H-E-B decided to increase corporate giving to match the generosity of their employees and UWATX experienced a 150% increase in corporate giving. They make philanthropy a part of their culture and host […]

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Volunteer Spotlight: Caroline Trang and Frances Jordan

Our middle school VPL program is full of outstanding volunteers! You may have read earlier this week about Cristian Dominguez from Webb Middle School — today we are highlighting another VPL volunteer, Caroline Trang, in honor of National Volunteer Week. Caroline is a 7th grader at Decker Middle School, one of the three middle schools served by our Middle School Matters program. This year was Caroline’s first year in the VPL program, and she had the best attendance of any student in the program and was a leader of Decker’s Literacy Night activity booth. Other projects Caroline and her team have taken on include making book posters, sorting books for donation, volunteering in the school library and creating bookmarks with literacy tips for other students. Young Leaders Society (YLS) Executive Member, Frances Jordan, serves as the YLS Campus Captain of Decker Middle School and has worked closely with Caroline this past year. Frances not only volunteers through YLS, but also serves as a member of UWATX’s volunteer Resource Development Committee and helps our fundraising team find new business and make important decisions. Frances and Caroline sat down together and chatted about their involvement and volunteer experiences with UWATX:   Frances: Why do you volunteer through the VPL program? Caroline: My friend Helen made me come at first, but it turned out to be so fun! I like to help others. Frances:What are your favorite types of volunteer activities? Caroline: Helping with cleaning up the community, presenting to groups, and giving gifts to those in need. Frances: Describe […]

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Students Spend Spring Break Volunteering at Ronald McDonald House

While some of their classmates laid on a beach or drove cross-country, some students from Webb Middle School chose to spend part of their Spring Break giving back to others. The VPL program is a UWATX initiative and a collaboration between the organization’s efforts to support three area middle schools—Webb, Mendez and Decker Middle Schools. Students participating in the afterschool VPL program learn how to take a leading role in changing their community each week. VPL students from Webb Middle School were charged with developing, planning, coordinating and executing a volunteer project on their own terms. The Webb students chose to support the Ronald McDonald House because they wanted to support families staying at the “home-away-from-home” while their children are being treated at Austin-area hospitals. Past graduates from the VPL program who are now in high school or beyond, members of UWATX’s Young Leaders Society, F.O.R.C.E. dance team members and Kerbey Lane Cafe volunteers assisted the Webb students in making breakfast for the 20 families who are staying at the Ronald McDonald House. The menu included green pancakes made with Kerbey Lane Cafe’s famous pancake batter, as well other traditional breakfast foods, such as hash browns, oatmeal and fruit skewers. The students also made St. Patrick’s Day cards for the families and passed them around after the breakfast. The students and volunteers took a tour of the Ronald McDonald House after the breakfast to learn more about the organization. Shoutout to these exceptional future leaders of Austin for spending their […]

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Decker Students Lead Literacy Night Project

Decker Middle School students in our VPL program volunteered at Decker Literacy Night on February 11th. The students in the UWATX VPL (Volunteer Project Leader) program work together to learn to become the next community leaders through afterschool and out-of-school volunteer projects they coordinate and run. Decker Literacy Night was coordinated by the literacy specialist at the middle school, and UWATX’s VPL students designed a booth where they led activities for other students. Last semester, Decker’s VPL students self-selected into project teams after a discussion about social issues that resulted in identifying four need areas that the students wanted to learn more about and support. These areas include: homelessness and hunger, environmental justice, children and literacy, and food and nutrition. Each issue area then chose a name for their project team and have undertaken project planning and leadership activities to help them build their team’s experience. The Big Read team, which focuses on children and literacy, led the Literacy Night booth project. While all VPL students supported the Literacy Night booth, Big Read came up with the ideas, led the activities and served as the project spokespeople. Decker VPL students were in charge of coming up with a theme and creating their booth. They designed a creative and colorful “Critics’ Corner” to give book recommendations and generate excitement about reading among their peers. Popular titles included “The Fault In Our Stars,” “Wonder,” “Girl In a Box” and “The Hunger Games.” Two Young Leaders Society executive members, Frances Jordan and Ward Hoffman, volunteered at […]

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300+ Volunteered on MLK Day of Service

MLK Day of Service is a national initiative to strengthen communities, bridge barriers between different groups of people, create solutions to our social problems and move us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community.” Thousands of individuals around the U.S. honor Dr. King’s legacy on this day by participating in volunteer projects that encourage community collaboration and make our towns a better place to live. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, more Americans live in poverty today than during Dr. King’s lifetime–which is why it is more important now than ever to work together to make Austin greater for all residents. More than 300 volunteers signed up to work on eight projects for this year’s MLK Day of Service on January 16th. This annual event is hosted by United Way for Greater Austin, Keep Austin Beautiful and State Representative Dawnna Dukes. We kicked off the event at UWATX with breakfast and encouraging speeches from Mayor Steve Adler, UWATX Board Member Rodney Northern and other influential community members. Volunteers then dispersed to work on a variety of projects, ranging from a clean-up of MLK Jr. Boulevard to creating works of art of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to be auctioned off to raise money for UWATX’s Middle School Matters program. Some of the groups that signed up for the event were Apple employees, current and alumni AmeriCorps […]

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UWATX Hosts 2nd Annual Community Tree Lighting

We held our 2nd Annual Community Tree Lighting event for the St. John’s community on Giving Tuesday, December 1, 2015. Webb Middle School students and their families, as well as other community members, were invited to attend the free holiday party. The kids loved visiting with the bunnies, hedgehogs, ducklings and more that the Tiny Tails To You traveling petting zoo brought. Other activities included a cookies and cocoa station, card and ornament making, a balloon artist and face painters. One of our Webb Middle School volunteer project leader students had the idea to set up a reading corner and read holiday books to some of the younger children at the event. As the sun set, Principal “Santa” Sanchez spoke of the importance and positive impact that he has seen through United Way’s support of the Webb campus. 54% of students at Webb received at least one service coordinated through UWATX last year, including behavioral health, mentoring, tutoring and afterschool programs. Webb’s musical groups performed holiday classics and the audience counted down from five until the tree was lit up with blue and gold–Webb’s school colors. Young Leaders Society members passed out donated toys and books to the children who attended. Thank you to Capital Metro who once again sponsored the 15 foot tree that lit up the St. John’s neighborhood this year! Thank you also to ABC Home & Commercial for decorating the tree, DoubleTree Hotels who provided volunteers and cookies, H-E-B for donating the hot cocoa, Petsmart for […]

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