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22 April 2013

Jim McFarlane (right), with his wife, Sharon, at Community Care Day 2012. Jim is a United Way Board Member and chairs a pair of committees: the Publicity Committee and the Community Care Day Committee
You’ve heard the expression that if you need to get something done, you should ask a busy person. That’s why United Way asks Mary Ann Conley to help with dozens of activities and events throughout the year.

The Marysville resident is a literal mother of two and a figurative mother of hundreds as Guidance Counselor at Mill Valley and Raymond Elementary Schools. But she still makes time to fulfill her volunteer commitments on the United Way of Union County Board of Trustees.

“What matters the most is that my time is being used well,” Conley said. “I am not one to just stand around. If I can help and keep busy, have fun and see people I know through my activities, then that is great. I see a lot of my students or families when I volunteer and I feel that is important for three reasons. One, they know I value the United Way by my words and actions. Secondly, if they see I am volunteering for United Way, they may consider getting involved too. Finally any event run by United Way is highly organized. That is important to me as I donate my time.”

Conley is one of 21 Board Members, more than 100 dedicated Committee Members, and hundreds of other volunteers United Way is saluting during National Volunteer Week. With just three paid staff members, United Way relies on the service of others to accomplish its mission to bring neighbors and resources together to improve lives. In fact, United Way estimates that 855 volunteers logged over 6,500 volunteer hours, accounting for over $142,000 in free labor last year!

“I volunteer for United Way because I value their connectedness in the community,” said Jim McFarlane, who’s busy operating Metermall USA, his own small business. “They know where real needs are and how to effectively channel financial support and volunteer resources to meet them. I trust that the time and money I give to my United Way will be directed to where it does the most good.”

United Way has six committees on which volunteers serve on a regular basis. Campaign Committee members ask for monetary gifts, coordinate workplace giving, speak about United Way at presentations, make phone calls, write letters, prepare mailings, and help with fundraising events.

The Community Investment Committee figures out how to spend donor dollars once they’re raised. They analyze the needs of the community, review funding requests from our Partner Agencies, tour and interview funded partners, and make recommendations on how to allocate donor dollars.

The Youth Arts & Recreation Committee raises and administers funds for our unique grant fund that allows youth to be involved in positive, structured after-school and summer activities if their families cannot afford the participation fees.

The Publicity Committee works on grassroots efforts to keep United Way front and center in the consciousness of Union County and represents the organization at various community events.

Women with a Mission provide a forum for concerned women to discuss needs that are important to local women and to find solutions. The group’s primary focus to date has been the maintenance of our early childhood literacy program, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.

And the Community Care Day Committee plans and coordinates our signature one-day volunteer event each year. Last year, over 600 volunteers came together to complete 280 service projects on a single day. This year, Community Care Day is set for Tuesday May 21 and would provide a great introductory look into the world of volunteering for a beginner.

Mary Ann Conley (middle), networks at a recent donor recognition event.
“There is nothing more satisfying than seeing the smile on the faces of those whom I’m able to help personally as a United Way volunteer,” McFarlane said. “That is why I am always so excited to be a part of Community Care Day. It’s a chance to get my hands dirty, help a neighbor, and make a difference in some small way. You won’t really understand this until you experience it yourself. You just have to get involved.”

“The event brings tears to my eyes,” Conley said. “Last year, I greeted hundreds and hundreds of people coming to do chores for people who they do not know – and they came with a smile on their face and a spring in their step. I also have washed windows for an elderly household and they were so thankful.”

If you are looking to get involved, United Way lists hundreds of local volunteer opportunities on its website at www.unitedwayofunioncounty.org that you can explore within the organization and among its community partners. Ask yourself, what do I like to do? What group of people do I like to be around? How much time to I have available and when can I help? Then contact the agency of your choice or call United Way at (937) 644-8381 and we’ll guide you to the best possible opportunity, based on your interests, abilities, and schedule.

“There are so many different types of volunteer opportunities, from helping with a miniature golf outing, to parking cars for the Balloon Rally, painting a shed on Community Care Day to folding and stuffing envelopes for the campaign,” Conley said. “A little time goes a long way.”
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