Category: Volunteer

Anyone can help save lives in Central Texas

Successful and equitable deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine is the most hopeful path to economic recovery, educational re-engagement, and re-emergence of cultural life in Central Texas. From vaccine clinics in church parking lots to high school cafeterias, we are proud to be a part of the coordinated effort to save lives in Central Texas. In collaboration with Austin Community Foundation and St. David’s Foundation, we awarded $415,000 in funding to 19 community-based organizations. These grants will support COVID-19 vaccine confidence and equitable access among Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and other groups that have suffered disproportionately the adverse health and economic impacts from the pandemic.  “Vaccines save lives,” said Stephanie Cerda, Vaccine Equity Program Manager at United Way for Greater Austin. “People of color and people with low income have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and these same communities now face challenges in accessing the vaccine due to barriers like language, technology, transportation, and more. We’re honored to partner with 19 community-based organizations to improve vaccine access, provide culturally relevant outreach to address hesitancy, and get our community closer to herd immunity.” Organizations receiving grants have deep connections in the community and a plan for increasing vaccination rates for underserved, unserved, disconnected, and rural populations in Central Texas counties (Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson).  Congratulations to the grantees! Learn more about the grantees here. “This work is very reliant on trust and building relationships,” said Cerda. “I know from my background as an educator, the first […]

Read More

Join us for Spring Season of Caring

Live United with us during Spring Season of Caring! Join us on Earth Day (Thursday, April 22) for the kickoff of Spring Season of Caring, our annual tradition of gathering with neighbors in service of our community. Our mission here at United Way for Greater Austin is to bring people, ideas, and resources together to fight poverty in our community. Keeping that mission and COVID-19 safety in mind, this year we are hosting a virtual gathering of community, and we have curated some self-guided, socially distanced opportunities for any individuals or groups to get involved. United together, we’re building a better Austin for everyone. Here’s how to join us: Spring Season of Caring, virtual gathering Thursday, April 22 12:30 – 1:00 p.m. A Zoom link will be shared via email with all who register. Join us on Earth Day for a community moment, reflection, and a game to find out how well you know your city. Join us at our virtual gathering Spring Season of Caring, socially distanced activities Live United and take pride in your community! We encourage you to take part in any of these self-guided community beautification activities on your own time throughout Spring Season of Caring. How does it work? Pick one of these curated Community Beautification Routes that piques your interest. Spend an hour volunteering, learning, exploring, and collecting trash. We’ve curated a few different locations around town to help you get to know Austin’s past and present. Sharing your photos on social media? Make […]

Read More

Meet Ashley Unbehagen: Making a Difference One Book at a Time

Here at United Way for Greater Austin, we know Ashley Unbehagen as a member of Women United and a volunteer at Bright Beginnings child care center. But, to the 3- and 4-year-olds she reads to each week, she’s the “Book Lady.” “It takes a community of people to be able to influence and grow these little beings, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.” – Ashley Unbehagen  Bright Beginnings is one of our partner child care centers through Pre-K Partnerships — a collaboration between Austin Independent School District and United Way for Greater Austin to support and expand access to high-quality, full-day pre-K for children ages 3 and 4 in our community. Success in life begins with a quality education, but more than 50% of children in Travis County are not ready for Kindergarten. That’s why this partnership ensures children are ready to succeed in Kindergarten and beyond. Our youngest years are the most active period for brain development, a crucial time to lay a firm foundation for all future growth. What happens in these early years has a lasting impact from Kindergarten readiness to third-grade reading scores to high school graduation and beyond.  Ashley is one of many community members working hard to ensure that our littlest Austinites get the strongest possible start in life. What draws you to United Way’s work in early childhood education?  My background is in social work. I worked as a licensed therapist in the areas of mental health and education. I […]

Read More

Meet Jen and Jack Foster: Making Giving Back a Family Affair

As a former United Way Board member, and a current member of Tocqueville United and Women United, Jen Foster is a true United Way champion! Her commitment to helping build a stronger Austin is something that she is passing down to her 10-year-old son, Jack. They have turned philanthropy into a family activity and jointly make decisions on how to best invest in the Greater Austin community.  “I know that other families need support, and it’s our number one goal as a family to make sure they get it.” – Jack Foster  Austin often tops the lists of best cities to live. A great place to raise a family, a healthy local economy, a city poised for future job growth – these are just some of the honors given to our metro area. And we agree… we love it too! But not everyone in our community is sharing in the promise of Austin. Yet. United Way for Greater Austin brings people, ideas, and resources together to fight poverty in our community. Because when one of us suffers, we all suffer, and when everyone reaches their full potential, our entire community benefits and thrives. But it’s not something that can be done alone – it takes a community of kind-hearted, generous people. People like Jen and Jack Foster.  Why does your family Live United?  Jen: [United Way’s mission to fight poverty] really resonates with our family because we are really fortunate to be able to send Jack to good schools and […]

Read More

Honor MLK Jr.’s life and legacy with us

MLK Jr. Day of Service celebrates the civil rights leader’s life and legacy through service. Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Jr. Day is one of only two federal holidays designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.  Historical and systemic racism drive racial inequities in our country, and in our own community. We partner with you in building a Greater Austin that works for everyone. Celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. King is central to United Way for Greater Austin’s community volunteerism because it helps us reconnect with our mission to fight poverty in our community, and reminds us that together we can enact the change we want to see. While this year looks different from our previous community gatherings, we invite you to join us for a socially distanced celebration, and a virtual gathering full of reflection and motivation on how to carry on Dr. King’s legacy of anti-racism, justice, and equity. We have opportunities for individuals, families, and groups of friends. MLK Jr. Day of Service Monday, January 18, 2021 Socially distanced: Park at the United Way ATX office and follow our pre-mapped 3.3 mile round-trip self-guided tour of historical landmarks celebrating Black culture on the East Side. Virtual: Celebrate the life of Dr. King by viewing Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, engaging in discussion around his life and legacy, and taking a […]

Read More

Spread Holiday Cheer

Blog contributions from Jordan Gutierrez-Ramirez, United Way for Greater Austin | Corporate Volunteer Manager United Way for Greater Austin brings people, ideas, and resources together all year long, and this holiday season we’re inviting you to join us! We know we’ll all be home for the holidays this year, and we’d like to brighten as many homes as we possibly can this season. We’re bringing together our friends and neighbors to spread cheer and good tidings through special holiday care packages for families that participate in United Way programs. These families make the work we do better by participating in focus groups, guiding our strategic priorities, and reminding us that together we are stronger. Will you support your neighbors by building care packages with us this holiday season? You can support neighbors like Esmeralda. This young mother dedicates her time to helping us build a better social services ecosystem that is more accessible and equitable. In addition to her day job, she helps support the needs of other young parents in our community, improving economic mobility for generations to come. Families like Esmeralda’s are the reason we’re still celebrating this year. Despite unexpected hardships, the human spirit is resilient, and together we’re rebuilding an Austin that is a better place for all families, for community, and for genuine connection. Will you help bring joy to families like Esmeralda’s? Each holiday care package will include: 1 H-E-B gift card 3-5 children’s books 1 toy gift After you have signed up, our […]

Read More

New Look, Same Good: Volunteering with United Way ATX

Blog contributions by Jordan Gutierrez-Ramirez, United Way for Greater Austin, Corporate Volunteer Manager In our world, a lot has changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic….but some things will always be the same: like our commitment to help Austinintes connect with their community through volunteerism. Volunteering may look different now, but we’re still finding ways to engage. Despite the pandemic, United Way ATX continues to host volunteer opportunities in our community that bring us all together whether that means masking up, social distancing or logging in virtually. It’s a new look, but it’s the same good that you’re used to doing! We’ve reimagined volunteering, and that means we’ve taken most of our opportunities virtual. Our team has been hard at work crafting unique online events to build community connections, support our neighbors, and still do good. Over the past few months we’ve hosted successful virtual events focused on education, advocacy, and gratitude. Together with our volunteers and donors, we continue to help make a tangible difference that positively impacts our community! While virtual volunteerism is our “new normal” we are still thrilled to find safe ways for folks to volunteer in person when possible. Longtime corporate partner JE Dunn Construction went above and beyond this summer for one of their company-wide volunteer days. They deployed their skilled volunteers to one of our Pre-K Partnership centers for an impressive two-day infrastructure project. With JE Dunn’s expertise, we were able to execute a safe, in-person event at Sweet Briar Child Development […]

Read More

JE Dunn Makes Sweet Briar Even Sweeter

JE Dunn Construction has been a close partner to United Way for Greater Austin since 2007. Last year, they ran their 11th annual employee giving campaign — and more than 30 team members stepped up to donate over $20,000 to support our Greater Austin community. But our collaboration isn’t just about raising money. JE Dunn is committed to showing up for our community through volunteer projects, too. They are deploying their skilled volunteers to our Pre-K Partnerships child development centers across Austin to complete much-needed infrastructure improvements. In late August, JE Dunn volunteers completed a two-day volunteer project at Sweet Briar Child Development Center. In the sweltering August heat, JE Dunn volunteers rolled up their sleeves and: -Removed a dead tree and buried tire -Moved the storage shed away from the main building to prevent additional water damage to both buildings -Improved the main walkway that staff, parents, and children use to walk into the school each day -Reconstructed the drainage system near the playground area to prevent any runoff issues -And more! Chris Szeliga, Sr. Vice President at JE Dunn, shared why this partnership with United Way for Greater Austin means so much to their company and team – especially now: “In these uncertain times, it’s crucial that organizations and individuals remain committed and diligent in the support of their local communities. JE Dunn Construction and our employees are proud to serve the Austin community by and through United Way. We are honored to affiliate with, humbled to partner […]

Read More

Volunteering: It’s Good for YOU, Too

People volunteer for all kinds of reasons. Many people volunteer because they want to make a difference or help the less fortunate. And it’s easy to see how spending your time lending a helping hand and supporting a good cause positively impacts the community. But it turns out, volunteering may benefit you just as much. Over the past 15 years, research has demonstrated the power of volunteering. Volunteering has positive impacts for your overall health and well-being; people who volunteer regularly have improved cognitive function, better physical health, live longer, and have lower rates of depression. A Harvard Health paper noted that people who volunteer weekly benefit from what they call the “happiness effect” and report happiness levels comparable to a life-changing wage increase. And, the positive benefits don’t end there! There are professional benefits too. Volunteering provides valuable opportunities to build your communication, teamwork, and problem solving skills. According to this Deloitte report, all this experience pays off: People who volunteer are twice as likely to be “very satisfied” with their career progression. In fact, 92% of HR executives agree that contributing to a nonprofit can improve leadership skills. More and more, businesses are also reporting positive impacts of community engagement. Young professionals who volunteer through their company are more likely to be proud, loyal, and content with their place of work. Volunteering is a win-win. Not only is it good for the community, it’s incredibly special to be able to take some time out of your regular schedule […]

Read More

Comcast Cares Day 2018: Comcast Celebrates One Year in Austin At Mainspring Schools

Sixty-eight Comcast team members showed up at Mainspring Schools’ bright and early last Saturday. Mainspring Schools is a long- term funded partner of United Way for Greater Austin and is among eight percent of centers in the U.S. accredited by the NAEYC, the nation’s most rigorous early childhood accrediting body.   “Comcast Cares Day is one of the ways we demonstrate our commitment to improving the quality of life in the communities where our customers and employees live and work,” Executive Director of XFINITY Home Wholesale, Tom Chmielewski said. “I have volunteered as the chair of an Austin nonprofit who has benefitted from the United Way’s support. I am proud that Comcast is a long time United Way supporter and want to support this great organization that does so much for our Austin community and neighbors.”   Representing different backgrounds, ethnicities and socio-economic levels, families come from all over Austin to attend Mainspring. Seventy-five percent of Mainspring students receive tuition subsidies. They believe diversity is crucial to developing self-aware, well-rounded children.   Comcast team members volunteered as a part of Comcast Cares day, a nation wide annual tradition of Comcast NBCUniversal. 2018 marked the 16th annual Comcast Cares Day and Mainspring was the first event located in Austin. On April 21, 2018, 100,000 volunteers worked to improve 1,000 project sites at community centers, schools, gardens, parks, beaches and more throughout the U.S. and in 20 other countries   “A day of service is such a small effort that can generate […]

Read More