If I have mastered any skill in my career, you might expect it to be getting a good value for my customers. Having worked more than three decades in banking and investments, I've spent a lot of time focusing on obtaining value for others.
In my world, "value" is usually expressed on financial statements, and success depends a lot on what the investor expects and needs.
But what I've come to appreciate in my life experiences and community involvement is that the best and highest value any of us can get in life is helping others.
As co-chair for United Way of Central Indiana's annual campaign, I do analyze and project financial scenarios. But what I know is that value is not always what follows a dollar sign. And reaching a certain financial goal is not really the #1 outcome that I expect or need from my involvement with United Way.
What inspires me to invest my time and my resources is that United Way's very mission matches my own values. By helping people learn more, earn more and lead safe and healthy lives, United Way is improving life for us all. That's quite a value!
Like many of my contemporaries, I started giving to United Way because at the bank where I began my career in 1973, it was the culture and the thing to do. Since then – and thanks to my wife, Becky – I have come to understand that when we treat giving as simply writing a check, we are likely shortchanging ourselves and shortchanging others.
My life-changing moment came during a family crisis. In August of 2006, my wife, Becky, was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer and given a year to 15 months to live. To get the surgery Becky needed, we had to travel to San Francisco. When we returned home, Becky began her chemo and radiation treatments. At the same time, a friend had put a blue and white cooler on our front porch and organized scores of volunteers to fill that cooler with meals to feed us every day of the week.
Some of the volunteers were folks who knew Becky from her own volunteer service at Christamore House, a United Way Community Center on the Westside of town. Some were eager to help her because she had helped them.
It was uncomfortable for me to have people dropping off food to the porch of our Geist home. I remember telling Becky, "We don't need this. We can take care of this by ourselves."
Becky disagreed. She understood there are two sides to giving. We DID need to know that Becky was surrounded by caring people who were contributing to her healing – and to mine – and not just with delicious, ready-to-eat meals. With faith, family and friends, we are celebrating six years survival this month.
I picture that blue and white cooler whenever I am tempted to talk about United Way with people as though it merely involves a transaction with targets and dollar goals.
What we do together to improve our community amounts to calling on our best and highest values. We help caring people see and understand the challenges in our community, and see their neighbors as people with needs that we can tackle together.
When we LIVE UNITED as volunteers, as givers and as voices for others, the value is not just a good return. It's an abundant one, that turns numbers into neighbors, despair into hope, and barriers into opportunities.
Please join us!
--Steve Schenck, senior partner, The Schenck Group, Merrill Lynch
Editor's note: Earlier in July, United Way's Emerging Leaders had the pleasure of hearing from Reggie Jones at their bi-monthly professional development lunch. Read on for Alli Latislaw's recap of the event and summary of Reggie's presentation.
Are you living a purposeful life? Reggie Jones, our guest speaker for the July Emerging Leaders Professional Advancement series lunch, spoke on what a purposeful life meant to him and the impact he has made on the community. He is the owner of six McDonald’s restaurants in Indianapolis and the founder of McMiracle. To Reggie, a purposeful life is being strong in your faith, giving back to the community, and mentoring individuals.
As a high school student growing up in Mobile, Alabama, Reggie Jones always knew he wanted to be in the restaurant business. After the serving in the Army, graduating from college and getting married, he relocated to New Mexico, where he managed a Hamburger Stand (now Wienerschnitzel). After a few years, he moved to Denver, Colorado to own his first McDonald’s restaurant in 1989. When he was presented with the opportunity to move to Indianapolis a few months later, he jumped at the chance. He is now the owner of six McDonald’s restaurants in the central Indianapolis area, including the newly remodeled location off of 57th Street. (P.S. Those renovations were done by Emerging Leader Mamon Powers of Powers and Sons Construction!)
Reggie enjoys being part of the community and giving back. His first philanthropic contribution started in Denver when he began using his restaurant’s PlayPlace for private birthday parties for underprivileged children. Once he moved to Indianapolis, he started McMiracle during the holidays at the 38th and Meridian McDonalds. McMiracle is an annual, one day gathering where hundreds of bicycles and toys are given away as a reward for good grades in school. Last Christmas, Reggie was able to give away over 700 bicycles!
At the end of Reggie’s motivating presentation, the crowd asked some great questions about his stores and mentor program. Here are some of our favorites.
Q: How do you handle challenging stores?
A: Reggie has adapted and changed for the environment he works in. He has grown over the years and is will to do whatever it takes for his employees to be successful. McDonalds also does a nice job of structuring the company. Each McDonalds is set up on a system. This system helps to keep in place all the employees, managers, menus, and restaurant guidelines.
Q: What is your mentor program and who do you mentor?
A: Reggie Jones is a mentor to anyone who is willing to listen. Mentoring to him is about giving words of encouragement and lending a helping hand. He enjoys mentoring his employees the most because he feels like he can connect with them because he understands what they are going through and what it feels like. Reggie has also had the pleasure of mentoring other franchisees because he wants everyone to succeed and not just his McDonalds.
Check out photos from the event here. Thanks again, Reggie! We can’t wait for the next event of our new Professional Development series, featuring Barbara Branic. Keep an eye on our calendar and make sure to register!
--Alli Latislaw, major gifts intern, United Way of Central Indiana
On June 12, Meridian Society members and their guests were invited to the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre for a private concert and reception with Michael Feinstein, performer, composer and arranger of The Great American Songbook. Michael graciously answered questions from the audience, led by Meridian Society member, Don Knebel.
Following his performance, Michael joined members and their guests for dessert and conversation (and photo opps!). See more photos from the evening here.
--Lori Arnold, Senior Manager, Meridian Society, United Way of Central Indiana
As an incentive for increased giving in the 2011 campaign, campaign chair Marianne Glick awarded several pieces of abstract artwork to donors and companies. Here are some of the winners and their beautiful new art pieces:
Man and Machine, Building a Dream for Fairbanks - United Way agency with the largest increase in donations
Joseph's Coat for Lance and Tracy Pfeifer - New Tocqueville donors
Hibiscus Heaven for DWA Healthcare - Breakthrough campaign growth (Deborah Wood with Marianne Glick in photo)
Achieve Your Dream for Hendrickson Trailer Suspension Systems - New workplace campaign (Jim Lower & Marsha Hawes in photo)
Thank you, Marianne, for sharing your talents with these award winners!
--Lucy Downton, director, resource development - operations and efficiencies
Ever wonder what might bring competing television anchors together for a single video production? In Indianapolis, the answer to that question is United Way.
Last week, on-air talent from each of the local stations met in WFYI Public Television's studio. They came together to record segments for United Way stories that will air on Tuesday, September 4 at 7:30 p.m.
The short pieces – less than two minutes – will show how United Way helps people learn more, earn more and lead safe and healthy lives.
The stations all share lead production duties too. This year WISH-TV 8, led by Tina Cosby and her team, are putting together the video package that you'll see on each station. During three breaks in their regular programming, the stations will show stories of local people whose lives have been changed thanks to United Way supporters.
We don't know of this kind of collaboration among major TV stations anywhere else in the country, so if you see any of these folks, please thank them!
Under the hot lights, Steve Schenck, United Way's annual campaign chair, (left) joined broadcasting pros: Lloyd Wright, WFYI; Fanchon Stinger and Bob Donaldson, WXIN Fox 59; Debby Knox and Eric Halvorson, WISH TV 8; Andrea Morehead and John Stehr, WTHR Ch 13; and Ericka Flye and Todd Connor, RTV 6. See more photos from the filming here.
It’s a marvel of intricate planning and patience, and we are so grateful to everyone involved for making it look easy and fun! (There’s almost a family reunion feel to this day that really demonstrates something we always say: United Way brings people together!)
WISH TV's General Manager Jeff White committed station resources to the project, including help from pros like Amy Howell, Amanda Bair, Allan Haw, Brian Wertz, Jarod Kerfoot, and John Rekis.
We can't wait to see the stories that these pros will create to bring to life United Way's work in education, income, health and basic needs!
--Mary Kinney, public/media relations director, United Way of Central Indiana
United Way of Central Indiana supports more than 100 programs and agencies, all with missions to help those in need. That help may be financial, emotional, educational or a combination of all three. Without United Way's focus on education, income, health and basic needs, countless Hoosiers would be homeless, hungry, battered or illiterate. The list goes on.
That is where I come in. I speak to agencies and their boards about the uncomfortable thing others don’t want to...their finances. I volunteer my time and expertise to train organizations about the importance of cash flow and why planning and budgeting are so important.
I teach current and potential board members what they should be looking for on financial statements. I explain how to put controls in place to help prevent fraud and why getting a grant is not always a good thing. Glamorous? Not really. Rewarding? Absolutely!
I truly enjoy these opportunities to give back by educating local nonprofit agencies. I am particularly gratified when I read on the evaluation forms what the attendees have learned and will put to use in their own organizations.
Here are some comments from recent attendees about the most interesting thing they learned in the session:
- "The ratio information will be immediately useful."
- "How to read the financial statements."
- "The board should review the 990 along with the audit."
For agencies to fulfill their missions and serve as many people as possible, they must be able to sustain themselves. Although the conversations can be difficult and often times eye opening, I am honored to offer training and assistance to the agencies served by United Way of Central Indiana. Let’s LIVE UNITED to continue helping people learn more, earn more and lead safe and healthy lives through United Way.
--Barb Bitzer, CPA, principal, Simons Bitzer & Associates, P.C.
Each month, we'll post updates about United Way and our agencies. There's (nearly) always something going on!
United Way news
- Nicole Martinez-LeGrand, donor relations associate, has left to join the community relations staff at the Children’s Museum.
- Joe Phillips, director, agency evaluations, a 24 year employee, has made the decision to transition to part-time status effective January 2013.
- Ron Carpenter has announced his last day as President & CEO at Children’s Bureau, Inc. will be August 1, 2012. Ron, who has been with the agency for 26 years, 16 of those as CEO, is leaving to become the new President of Indiana State University Foundation. The agency’s VP & COO, Janice Klein, will serve as the interim CEO while the board conducts a national search.
- Major Barbara MacLean became the new divisional secretary of The Salvation Army on July 2.
- Declining memberships and increased operating costs were cited as factors that caused the Indianapolis Senior Center board to vote to dissolve the agency effective June 30, 2012. United Way of Central Indiana, CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions and Central Indiana Community Foundation will help the agency transition clients and members to other programs and services, and make sure the transportation services remains intact. United Way’s Executive Committee has authorized use of the agency’s 2012-13 approved allocation to help with transition expenses.