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September 19, 2012

Purdue United Way volunteer hopes to show how every donation counts

JoAnn Miller

JoAnn Miller, associate dean for interdisciplinary programs and engagement in the College of Liberal Arts, is a loaned campaign representative of the 2012 Purdue United Way Campaign. (Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)
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JoAnn Miller understands the community benefits reaped from Purdue's United Way Campaign. Having previously received support from one of the United Way's participating organizations, Miller, associate dean for interdisciplinary programs and engagement in the College of Liberal Arts, is prepared to speak about the campaign as one of the loaned campaign representatives for the University.

What do you do in your role as a loaned campaign representative?

I make presentations to groups at Purdue and within the community to talk about the United Way's campaign and its 23 participating organizations. I also answer any questions about the campaign and encourage groups to volunteer with one of the participating organizations.

How do you encourage others to contribute to the cause?

I have chosen to feature the services and programs that children receive through United Way funding in my presentation. The three areas United Way supports are education, income and health; I've noticed that children benefit from programs in all of these areas. This ranges from before birth, with prenatal programs at the Riggs Community Health Center, to the Crisis Center for teens in need.

I also tell them that every cent they contribute stays within the community and goes directly to the services that the United Way's participating organizations provide. Even if a person can only contribute a dollar, that donation gets pooled with all of the other United Way funds to make a large overall difference. We are lucky to have the Vanguard Program, where the contributions of a few donors help cover administration costs.

What do you hope to convey to people?

I hope to show how every donation helps to better our community. Individually our efforts may be small, but together we can make a huge difference.

Where does your passion for the United Way stem from?

When I first moved to the area as a single mother, one of the United Way organizations helped my son with a counseling need. I felt very welcomed here because of the United Way. I've also seen how much our community depends on programs like Lafayette Transitional Housing and the Wabash Center. It is reassuring to know that they're here and ready to help. I feel that the programs available are there to give everybody a chance.

We are so fortunate in this community to have as few problems as we do, and we are so lucky to have the participating organizations in place to help solve the problems that we do face.

How else have you been involved in the United Way?

I've been a donor to the United Way since I came to Purdue in 1984. I became actively involved in the organization in 2007, when I wrote a grant for the "Downtown Lafayette Weed & Seed" initiative. I also wrote a federal grant for the United Way called "Assets for Independence" that funds a program to encourage savings. For every dollar saved, the person earns three dollars to purchase assets – either college tuition or a home.

More about Purdue's United Way campaign

Purdue's United Way Campaign kicked off Sept. 11. This year's theme is "Building Extraordinary Futures." Purdue's campaign chair is Maryann Santos de Barona, dean of the College of Education, and the vice chair is Dale Whittaker, vice provost for undergraduate academic affairs.

To schedule a presentation

In addition to Miller, Purdue has one other LCR for 2012: Jason Ware, education coordinator for the vice president for ethics and compliance. To schedule a United Way presentation, call 742-9077 or visit www.uwlafayette.org/Schedule_An_LCR.html.

Writer: Rachel Florman, rflorman@purdue.edu