Faculty, staff share why they give to United Way

October 21, 2015  

The Purdue United Way Campaign began in September, offering another occasion for faculty and staff to demonstrate their commitment to bettering the community. Purdue Today asked its readers why they contribute to the United Way. Here are their responses:


Annette Brown, diversity outreach project manager, Office of the Provost

The United Way is special to me for a few reasons. First, in the 1980s I worked for the United Way as information and referral coordinator. Second, when I needed day care for my daughter, she went to a United Way-funded agency where she was provided with exceptional care. Third, my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and at one point we had to put her in adult day care, which was a United Way-funded agency. She, too, received amazing care and support. Lastly, when I came to work at Purdue, I brought with me my 9-year old-daughter. When I asked about child care for her in the summer, someone suggested the Hanna Community Center. There she was cared for and nurtured by amazing staff and volunteers. My involvement with the United Way, both as a service provider and recipient, has been a wonderful long-term relationship.


Tom Brown, facilities assistant/copy operator, Krannert School of Management

I give to the United Way because one of my daughters gains services from one of the agencies. And, one day, any of us may be accessing one or more of the agencies as we age and retire.


Raymond Daniels, plant electrician, Heat and Power

When my children were young, we used their program for vaccinations, so I thought it would be nice to pay back.


Larry French, manager of learning spaces operations, IT Customer Relations

I am proud to work at a university that does so much to support our local United Way campaign. The funds contributed by Purdue staff each year help build and sustain the type of community we all want to live in and demonstrate Purdue's commitment to the "town and gown" philosophy.

When 18 percent of the children in our county live in poverty, we know there is a lot more work to do. And this work cannot be completed by United Way agencies without the essential contribution by Purdue staff each year.

My family has directly benefited from the work of UW-funded efforts like Dream Up, which helps middle school students discover career opportunities. In addition, I have observed the great work done by Read to Succeed, YMCA, Bauer Family Resource Center and more. I am happy to do whatever I can to support this important work.


Cheryl Gray, benefits systems and information manager, Human Resources 

A person never knows when some action or event might turn their life upside down and suddenly be in a situation where assistance is needed. United Way has connections with many organizations that help individuals and families depending on their need. I'm fortunate enough to have the means to contribute, and helping others help others is the right thing to do.


Brian Hudson, senior advisor of Lean Six Sigma, Purdue Healthcare Advisors

As a young person working at an area business I began giving to United Way because I thought it was the right thing to do and also because I wanted to be entered into the prize drawings they had, but that all changed a few years ago.

Before joining Purdue, I was asked to be a loaned campaign representative by a local employer. In the role of LCR we went to local companies to talk with employees about the campaign and how their donations are used to fund local organizations and their programs.

In preparing to do the presentations, we had several days of training about United Way and the partner organizations they support so we could speak about them during our presentations. With that we had an introduction to all of the organizations, and many of those presentations were on location at Food Finders, Bauer Family Resource Center, Lafayette Transitional Housing and Lafayette Adult Resource Academy.

Seeing those facilities and the people they served really impacted me. As I reflected on what I saw, I realized that there were several common themes:

* The amazing care and compassion they have for people that come to them.

* How resourceful they are with the funding they receive, to make every dollar stretch as far as it can.

* How well all the community partners connect so they don't overlap services and they get people to the help they need. 

Being there and seeing these organizations really made me appreciate what they do and how they do it. Although I'm not able to be there helping them each day, my donation from every paycheck allows them to serve, and that's how I can help. 


Dr. David Huse, clinical assistant professor of comparative and applied anatomy, Department of Basic Medical Sciences

I give to United Way for three reasons. First, United Way is the major source of funding for a huge number of local organizations serving thousands of your neighbors in Lafayette, West Lafayette and Tippecanoe County. Every donation regardless of size benefits people you see every day. These organizations help a very wide range of people, from infants to the elderly. Second, I appreciate that I can designate my contribution to go to specific organizations that mean something special to me. This makes my gift feel even more personal.

Third, with payroll deduction through Purdue, it is a simple process and allows me to give more since the payments are spread out over the course of a year. Once I turn my United Way card into my representative, I forget about it until tax time when I have a ready-made charitable deduction. I urge everyone to donate something and help make a difference in the local community.


Rhonda Haan, secretary, University Copyright Office

When I've been in the position to give, I've always tried to include the United Way. I like that the money stays in our community and helps local families. In 1979, my father was diagnosed with leukemia. Luckily, he had a good job that provided sick leave, but that wasn't enough to provide for a family of seven.

We went through some really hard and lean times. At one point, my parents went to see about food stamps, but came home shortly after and said, "We'll just tighten our belts some more." They didn't even ask for help. "Because no matter how bad we have it, there are people out there in a lot worse shape." I'll never forget that or the help that we did receive. Our church brought over Christmas gifts and food and the Cancer Society provided gas money to help my dad get back and forth to Indianapolis for his treatments.

That was a scary world to a 13-year-old, but knowing that there were people out there willing to help offered a little bit of relief. When you give to the United Way, you are helping someone locally, and that person might be able to give back some day. It's all a circle and it's good to be in a position to give.


Becky Hershey, director of Purdue United Way

With a young family and two full-time working parents, finding high-quality childcare is incredibly important. We discovered that the Lafayette Family YMCA provided child care at its facility as well as on site at the elementary school for before- and after-school care. They were a huge help to us in those early years for trustworthy, dependable care.

When our youngest son received a life-changing medical diagnosis (he has epilepsy, a seizure disorder), we turned to our network of family and friends, and to the services provided through the United Way of Greater Lafayette. Due to his medical condition, he struggled academically, especially in reading and language arts. He became a "Read to Succeed" kid. Through this program, he was able to improve his reading skills by working with the volunteer on a weekly basis.

Our family was able to experience firsthand the positive impact of the Read to Succeed program. It truly makes a difference! We give to the United Way because we have been given so much through the amazing work they do.  


Jaclyn Jones, payment card specialist, Office of Treasury Operations

Giving to United Way has always been an important aspect of my life. I've seen firsthand how it can change someone's life for the better. I remember two years ago a woman was homeless and the Lafayette Transitional Housing helped to get her permanent housing and helped her find resources for other needs she had.

Recently, I toured the Lafayette Transitional Housing facilities and witnessed just how helpful the program is to people. Volunteers come in and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and they also have programs to help people get into housing to start their journey to success. Lafayette Transitional Housing is one of the many excellent programs that United Way supports for our community. It is important to give back so others can succeed and be able to independently sustain their lives.


Claudine Meilink, associate director of corporate outreach, Krannert Professional Development Center

When I moved to West Lafayette nine years ago for my position at Purdue, I was the single mom of an 11-year-old son, and we had just moved 200 miles away from any family. Organizations supported by the United Way immediately helped us feel welcome in the Greater Lafayette community. In particular, my son attended the Boys & Girls Club after school. At that time, I was not able to afford child care, so this was a huge help.

Now that I am in a better place financially, I want to pay it forward. My son also greatly benefited by being matched with a Big Brother, Alen, from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Lafayette. At the time, Alen was a graduate student attending Purdue. He is someone that my son, Caleb, has stayed in touch with and continues to look to as a role model and mentor. This is why I give!


More information about the Purdue United Way Campaign and how to donate is available in this Purdue Today story

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