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Holiday Volunteering

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

The holiday season is just around the corner, and with it comes many volunteer opportunities in our community. Agencies across the Triangle area are working to bring holiday cheer to their clients, and you can help. Whether you’re looking to volunteer for a few hours, find a place to donate toys, or hold a food drive, you can make a difference in someone’s life this holiday season through one of these opportunities.

Visit often. We will be updating this list with new opportunities as they come in. And remember, this is the time of year when many people wish to volunteer, so if you see an opportunity of interest, do sign up!

Fostering Youth Opportunities of Johnston County

Donations of personal hygiene items are needed for young men and women that are often unaffordable once they are no longer eligible for state-subsidized assistance. Items can be dropped off at Yes I Can Youth Program- 912 N. Brightleaf Blvd Smithfield, NC.

Contact for more info on how you can support this organization.

penniesforCHANGE Thrift Boutique

(program of the Durham Crisis Response Center)

  • Activities range from tagging and steaming clothes, general cleaning, weeding, moving furniture
  • 17 or older
  • Max group size = 6
  • Shift length = 3 hours
  • Store is located at 2715 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd, Durham, NC, 27707
  • Store hours: Mon – Thurs 10 – 6 pm; Fri & Sat 10 – 5 pm; Sun 12 – 5 pm
  • Contact Terry Pannick to sign up
  • Advance scheduling is required for all volunteers.

Kraft Family YMCA 2016 Angel Tree “Togetherhood” Project

Year after year we help hundreds of families with gifts for their children. This year is no different. We will be serving 276 students in our community! We can use your help in a number of ways if your schedule permits and many of the opportunities are flexible with your schedule!This is the link for several opportunities.

There are other needs not listed here, including adopting angels and helping to audit the gifts which can be done at your convenience. Contact Beth Porter if you’d like to help with that aspect too!

InterAct Holiday Bazaar

Volunteers needed to:

  • Accept and organize donations – December 5-9
  • Transform InterAct into a toy store at the Elf Party – December 6
  • Assist families during the Bazaar – December 10
    -Personal shoppers to assist mothers as they shop for their children
    -Personal shoppers to assist children as they shop for their moms
    -Elves that help keep the shopping areas organized and tidy
    -Special volunteers to help children wrap their gifts and play fun games

The Salvation Army of Wake County Christmas Activities

  • Christmas Toy Shop Set-Up (15 volunteers needed/day) December 1—December 17, Monday-Saturday
  • Bell Ringing Campaign Friday, November 25 – Thursday, December 24 (Monday-Saturday)
  • Stocking Stuffers 9,000 stockings need to be filled with goodies by December 15th.
  • Angel Tree at Crabtree Valley Mall, Triangle Town Center & Cary Towne Center November 11 – December 12
  • Christmas Distribution Days (80-100 volunteers) December 19, 20, 21 & 22; December 23 (Clean up)
  • Adopting Angels Individual angels can be adopted from the Angel Tree location at Crabtree Valley Mall, Triangle Town Center, or Cary Towne Mall.
  • Contact Margaux Austin

Urban Ministries of Wake County

Holiday Box: Create a Holiday Box for a hungry family – feel free to get creative.

  • Main Course: $25 gift card from Food Lion for a turkey, ham, or chicken
  • Side Dishes: Stuffing, potatoes/yams, cranberry sauce, fruits and vegetables, biscuit mix, cream of mushroom soup
  • Dessert: Cake mix, prepared icing, pie filling, brownie mix
  • Donations can be delivered to 1390 Capital Blvd Monday-Friday 9am-4:30pm

Orange County Department of Social Services

“Share Your Holiday” Sponsorship Program: Sponsor a person and buy new gifts ($200-$250/child, or $75-$100 for seniors or disabled adults. Gift cards for a holiday meal are also appreciated.

Toy Chest: Select 2-3 gifts per child aged 18 and under. Low-income parents shop for gifts at Toy Chest for their children, just like shopping in a store. Donations of new toys, books, articles of clothing, non-perishable food items and money are also welcome.

Volunteers needed to:

  • Toy Chest preparation receiving and sorting toys, December 5-16 10am-5 pm
  • Toy Chest set up Arrange toys for the Toy Chest December 5-16 10 am-5 pm
  • Toy Chest escorts Assist clients with shopping for toys December 17-18 Saturday 10 am-6 pm; Sunday 12-5 pm
  • Interpreting Assisting with language interpretation December 17-18 Saturday 10 am-6pm; Sunday 12-5 pm



Principal check presentation

Morrisville, NC—United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT) is pleased to announce an enhanced partnership with Principal® that will put 40,000 books and 10,500 meals into the Triangle community and mobilize hundreds of volunteers. This partnership is designed to help address two urgent needs for vulnerable children and their families: access to food when school is out and access to books to create home libraries in order to combat summer slide, achievement gap in school.

Principal has been conducting annual charitable giving campaigns for United Ways across the country since the 1920s; this additional $25,000 grant goes above and beyond those annual contributions to support two large scale volunteer and community impact efforts the Spring of 2017.

Gary Dorton, Vice President, Employer Solutions and Services at Principal said, “We are thrilled to continue our strong partnership with United Way of the Greater Triangle. Through this grant we pledge not only financial resources but also our talented employees who are dedicated and passionate about helping families and children in our community.  Our neighbors depend on all of us to make a difference so we hope others will join in.”

In partnership with First Book and collaborative agency partners focused on literacy, United Way will bring the 40K Book Truck to the Triangle during National Volunteer Week, April 23-29, 2017, as part of their B.O.O.K.S. (Building on Our Kids Success) initiative. The free books will be distributed across the four counties served by UWGT — Durham, Johnston, Orange, and Wake. Over 400 volunteers will help to break down 25 pallets of books and help get them directly to kindergarten through fifth grade students in schools and afterschool programs over four days.

On June 21, 2017, on United Way’s Day of Action, more than 100 volunteers will pack bags with seven meals, enough food for meals for an entire weekend. Volunteers will have a significant impact by providing 10,500 weekend meals to students qualifying for free and reduced lunch programs while they are away from weekday summer programs.

“It is gratifying to see the evolution of traditional partnerships that deepen financial investments and volunteerism to have an immediate impact on our community. We are grateful to Principal Financial for their increased commitment to helping children and their families succeed,” said Mack Koonce, President & CEO, United Way of the Greater Triangle.


About Principal®

Principal helps people and companies around the world build, protect and advance their financial well-being through retirement, insurance and asset management solutions that fit their lives. Our employees are passionate about helping clients of all income and portfolio sizes achieve their goals – offering innovative ideas, investment expertise and real-life solutions to make financial progress possible. To find out more, visit us at

Principal, Principal and symbol design and Principal Financial Group are trademarks and service marks of Principal Financial Services, Inc., a member of the Principal Financial Group.

About United Way of the Greater Triangle

United Way actively mobilizes the caring power of communities to build resources, focus investments, and foster partnerships to improve lives and inspire generations of achievement in four North Carolina counties, Durham, Johnston, Orange, and Wake. A new focus on families and children in low income households uses a collaborative approach to dramatically change the course of their futures.

Learn more at

2400 Perimeter Park Drive, Suite 150 | Morrisville, North Carolina 27560 | 919.460.8687


We Are All Philanthropists

Today is National Philanthropy Day, a celebration of giving, volunteering, and charitable engagement. Philanthropy is not a word reserved for those with thousands to give; rather, it is the ability of each of us to acknowledge a shared philanthropy – an altruistic concern for human welfare and advancement – that creates change for those in need. In doing so, we all benefit.

Most of us enjoy the benefits of a growing and prosperous Triangle, so it’s hard to believe that around 1 in 8 of our neighbors lives in poverty. Even as more people move into the area seeking economic opportunity, our metro area ranks near the bottom (#88) among America’s largest 100 counties for the ability of poor people to become economically secure, according to the National Equality of Opportunity Project. That means it’s highly likely that children born into low income families in our community will remain there.

Yet the long-term success of our neighbors is fundamental to the long-term success of our community – and education sits at the core of that success. In the Triangle, 73% of kids from low income families are not proficient readers by the end of 3rd grade. Starting this far behind means these kids have a 78% chance of staying behind far into adulthood.

We are a generous and caring community; that’s one of the qualities that makes the Triangle such a great place to live. Surely, it’s not in our nature to stand by and let the contributions of any member of our community be limited because of their socioeconomic status. It is in all our best interests to ensure that children born into poverty succeed in early education, and that their families are economically secure. A truly prosperous community is one in which all of its members have the opportunity to develop their potential and contribute their talents for the common good.

Increasing social mobility – enabling low income families to become economically secure – will take all of us as a community becoming aware of the issue and finding ways to work together to change that trajectory.

At United Way of the Greater Triangle, our goal is to get more children on the path to success using a two-generation, collaborative approach, and to improve the financial stability of more families with a hand up, not a handout. We enable social mobility through collaborative partnerships made up of non-profit agencies and other partners (like school systems or government agencies). These partnerships put a family at the center of their focus to address the needs of both adults and children – because a child can’t learn if he’s hungry or has no home to go to, and a parent can’t provide food and housing without a job and transportation. Even the lack of diapers can keep a family in poverty, because no diapers means no child care. This two generational approach – serving the needs of kids and their families – is a proven way to break the hold of poverty on successive generations.

Collaborative partnerships come together around the family, and importantly, focused on long-term outcomes of family success. Achieving success takes a lot of time and effort, and team members have to learn new skills to work effectively together. But each family that becomes sustainably, economically secure is a family that contributes to the improved health of our entire community.

Philanthropy is not about handouts; it’s about bringing resources to bear to address social issues facing our communities. It is about all of us. A collaborative, two-generational approach to family success harnesses the collective power of our community’s human, intellectual and financial capital – nonprofit agencies, funders, government, academia, business and individuals – working directly with children and their families to address their needs, and help them become economically secure.

On this National Philanthropy Day, let’s commend the progress our community has made in helping those in need even as we recommit ourselves to make the Triangle a better place to live for all. Join in. Contribute. Volunteer. Be a changemaker in our community.

– Mack Koonce, President and CEO, United Way of the Greater Triangle


I can change the Triangle.

“I can change the Triangle.” 

I have heard this statement every day since starting my Fellowship with United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT). If you’re told something enough, you may just start to believe it. But while serving as a Fellow over the past 4 months, I have learned that this claim is, in fact, true.

As a recent college graduate, I had high hopes of entering the working world in a position where I could truly impact my community, but was unsure of where to even begin. For me, and my generation—the “millennials” if you will—personal life and work life are not in two different spheres anymore. Rather, it seems that, more than ever, we have a deep desire to merge our passions of creating social change with our career choices.

This presents a challenge and causes much angst when deciding which path to take senior year of college—accept the dream job at the top accounting firm, continue on to graduate school, or work at a nonprofit for a cause you deeply care about. However, I have found that United Way of the Greater Triangle provides the perfect opportunity to fill this gap and to allow individuals to fulfill their aspirations in both their work and personal lives.

Personally, as a Fellow, I have had the chance to satisfy my ambition of creating positive change through my work as I am out in the field everyday talking to our corporate partners about the issues in our community and how they can be a part of the solution. I recognize these corporate partners, too, are in the unique position to be catalysts of transformative change in their communities through their professional work.

I noticed the true power of the partnership between individuals serving in the corporate world and United Way of the Greater Triangle during EY’s Connect Day. Each year, EY, a professional services firm and a partner of UWGT, participates in an all-employee volunteer day where EY employees serve different Triangle nonprofits. I stood alongside accountants, auditors, and consultants and sorted books for Book Harvest, a nonprofit that provides books for Triangle children in need. As we sorted, we discussed some of the largest challenges Triangle families are facing, and brainstormed ways that each person can be a part of the solution.

It was exceptional to see so many EY employees come out to serve their community in a very different way, and with great impact. This all-hands-on-deck volunteer day truly speaks to the opportunities that United Way of the Greater Triangle creates for corporate partners to get out into the community and to make a difference.

Though my time as a Fellow with United Way of the Greater Triangle is coming to an end, I am hopeful that “I can change the Triangle”…that we all can change the Triangle. This is because UWGT creates powerful partnerships and gives individuals the opportunity to be change makers through their workplace and through volunteerism. I encourage everyone to consider how they can be a part of the solution—how this quest for transformative change be a part of your everyday life—and to think of United Way as a partner in that quest.

– Jessica Lama, 2016 Community Engagement Fellow


United Way’s SPARC Nonprofit Board Training Hits It Out of the Park!

On Thursday, November 3, I was among a group of people from the Triangle area who met for our last nonprofit board training session. The room was buzzing with talk of the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series the night before. The United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT) had created an environment to encourage lively exchanges between all of us in a short period of time. Even though we came from various professions and backgrounds, we were all focused on a single goal: learning about becoming a nonprofit board member.


The SPARC Nonprofit Board Training Program is composed of six two-hour sessions to provide the basics of becoming an effective board member. UWGT ensures that all the bases are covered during this training. The program begins with understanding what a nonprofit does and how it works. It then moves on to clearly explain the roles and responsibilities of board members and staff. Diversity, legal responsibilities, ethics, strategic planning, and fundraising are covered in other sessions.

While at first glance these topics may seem dry, UWGT lined up engaging speakers who were insightful and experts in their field and in the nonprofit community in the Triangle. The two hours flew by as we listened to the speakers explain their material, share their stories, and encourage active participation and questions. From the first speaker to the last panel of speakers, they were passionate about their nonprofit roles and the knowledge they could share to help us be successful as board members.

Besides identifying excellent speakers, UWGT created a bond between the attendees. We were assigned different tables each week and a light breakfast was available during a set time to network. These simple steps, along with UWGT’s “question of the day,” allowed us to feel known and comfortable with one another.

The last session’s “question of the day” was “what was the most valuable take-away from these sessions?” For some people, it was hard to pick just one thing. For others, like me, there were nuggets from the various sessions – questions to ask before becoming a board member, how to evaluate a nonprofit’s programs, legal considerations, how a board member should interact with staff – that really resonated with us. What was apparent, though, was that we all valued the program and now feel equipped to take the next step: find a nonprofit that matches our passions and get involved.

Just like the Cubs, UWGT took a big win with their SPARC Nonprofit Board Training Program and has nurtured and readied us to make a difference in our communities.

– Jody Barish, SPARC Nonprofit Board Training graduate, Fall 2016


Sneakers or Heels?

“I believe we can end childhood hunger. I believe we can end homelessness.”

I say this every day as I present to companies as a Community Engagement Fellow with United Way of the Greater Triangle. And honestly, I really do believe that. We live in such an “informed society.” With the touch of our finger we can read up on almost any world issue. So, when I talk about issues like hunger, homelessness, and poverty, no one is shocked and no one gasps – we all know they exist – though they may be “invisible” to some. But solving them all together? Now, that’s shock worthy.

I grew up as an activist, always involved at the grassroots level—attending protests and candlelight vigils as a kid. I’ve gone door-to-door raising money and collecting signatures as an advocate for social justice in our community. Because of this, I was aware early on of the issues in our community and the determination it takes to solve them. But when I started as a Fellow at United Way, I was about to experience advocacy in a whole new light – and it involved corporate America. I was used to putting on my sneakers and hitting the pavement, but this time I put on heels and a blazer as I walked into offices.

At first I wasn’t sure how to act. How could I speak about what’s really going on in our community in a way that didn’t sugar coat anything or gloss over reality? I followed my mother’s advice to share what I knew, speak poignantly and state the facts. I found people truly cared. In fact, I found a lot people are looking for an opportunity to get involved, and just needed to be asked.

I’ve spoken with groups of anywhere from 10 to 100 people. I’ve been in rooms with all women, and have also been the only woman in the room. At the end of each presentation, people came up to share their stories with me.

This one really stuck with me:

“We didn’t have any books in my house growing up. I used to go to the book store after school just to read. Once I found one I liked I’d go there every day until I finished it. I’d even hide it in a secret spot so no one would take it.”– Corporate Partner Employee

It’s been an amazing opportunity to talk with people who work in all different industries in the Triangle and have passionate conversations about what’s going on and how to get involved.

Everyone has a story.

Everyone can connect with the issues in our community in their own unique way – whether wearing sneakers or a suit and tie.

At United Way we believe in collective impact and collaborative partnerships engaging community members with unique skill sets and experiences to work together to spark transformative change and solve community issues. So, whether I’m wearing sneakers or heels, I can truly say with confidence that United Way’s collaborative approach is why “I believe we can end child hunger. I believe we can end homelessness.”

– Jillian Riley, 2016 Community Engagement Fellow


Start the Bus(es)!


One of the GoTriangle buses filled “to the brim”

What happens when you combine the creative vision of a GoTriangle marketing guy, the reach of the United Way network, the powerhouse media outlets of WRAL and Capitol Broadcasting, and the generosity of the Triangle community? Within hours you surpass your original goal of filling one bus to help our neighbors impacted by Hurricane Matthew. . . then fill two additional buses and two vans brought in for support from RDU International Airport. It was incredible to see the response to the call to help communities in Johnston, Nash/Edgecombe, and Wilson counties. At a time when more seems to divide than connect us, the drive to fill the buses demonstrated the power of a caring community.

Riding the bus to make the deliveries the next day—we had to shift lots of paper towel packages to find seats—was a backbreaking but heartwarming experience.


Volunteers in Rocky Mount ready for action

First stop: Rocky Mount. Waiting for us at United Way of Tar River Region were staff, board members, and volunteers with a 53 ft. trailer in the parking lot of their building. Serving Nash and Edgecombe counties, they received canned/dried food, personal hygiene items and cleaning supplies for the many people whose homes have water damage. Representatives from the Princeville food pantry were on hand to take back a truckload of food to shore up their empty shelves. The delivery was on Thursday; by Monday hundreds of people had received items to help with their rebuilding.

Next stop: Wilson County—the most exciting arrival . . .by police escort!  We pulled in to the parking lot of the Food Lion to see a line of cheering people. United Way of Wilson County received one bus full of food: nonperishable items, formula and nutritional drinks to support their local drive. Food pantries from around the county had vehicles on site and volunteers loaded items right onto the vans. Pantries had been depleted making it difficult to help feed those impacted by the hurricane and others who rely on this support. It was certainly an event. Even local politicians rolled up their sleeves to haul food into the vehicles!

Last stop: Johnston County at The Partnership for Children. Last but not least, this one is closest to our hearts here at United Way of the Greater Triangle because these are our partners we’ve worked with for many years. The Partnership for Children and Boys & Girls Club of Johnston County are in one of our collaborative partnerships, Great Futures, which also includes both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. The Boys & Girls Club of Johnston County sustained significant damage when the building lost its roof. Mamie Moore, the executive director, has been with the Club since its inception and, even on a good day, worries about “her kids.”

There was no fanfare when we arrived in Selma, rather, the simple, poignant image of Mamie bursting into tears when she saw the bus filled with items. Generously, the Partnership agreed to receive canned/dried food, diapers and formula, cleaning supplies, and toiletries. And the staff pitched in (wearing, not t-shirts and jeans, but their professional attire) to unload the bus and van.

The supplies were handed out on Saturday to 44 families from Selma Elementary (many are Club members) that have been displaced, as well as to other individuals in need. The supplies took over the whole back room, and as Dwight Morris (ED of the Partnership) observed, “when a partner goes down, you stand with them.”

A great deal of standing together was demonstrated over these two days. A sincere thank you to everyone who contributed. We couldn’t have done it without you!


Three GoTriangle Storm Relief Buses Filled Up to Help Communities Impacted by Hurricane Matthew

Media Contact: Melanie Davis-Jones 

Morrisville, NC (October 27, 2016) – Buses from GoTriangle and RDU International delivered food and other supplies to families impacted by Hurricane Matthew for Johnston, Nash/Edgecombe, and Wilson Counties on Thursday, October 27. United Way of the Greater Triangle, GoTriangle, WRAL-TV, and RDU International urged Triangle residents to donate supplies to fill a Storm Relief bus a day earlier. The community rallied to fill three buses and two vans.

The Storm Relief Bus delivered items today to:

  • The Partnership for Children of Johnston County in Selma received canned/dried food, diapers and formula, cleaning supplies, and toiletries for the Boys and Girls Club of Johnston County. Their building lost its roof during the storm, flooding all of its contents. The Club is part of a United Way collaborative partnership, Great Futures, which includes both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, as well as the Partnership for Children of Johnston County which stepped in to receive items for the bus delivery. The supplies will go to 44 families from Selma Elementary (most are Club members) that have been displaced and to other individuals in need.
  • United Way of Tar River Region serving Nash and Edgecombe counties received canned/ dried food, personal hygiene items and cleaning supplies for the many people whose homes have water damage. Representatives from the Princeville food pantry were on hand to take back a truckload of food to shore up their empty shelves.
  • United Way of Wilson County received one bus full of food – nonperishable items, formula and nutritional drinks. Food pantries from around the county had vehicles on site and volunteers loaded items right onto the vans. Pantries have been depleted making it difficult to help feed those impacted by the hurricane and others who rely on this support.

“The success of this storm relief drive highlights the power of the partnership. Kudos too, to United Way of North Carolina which played a pivotal role in our ability to respond quickly,” said Melanie Davis-Jones, Senior Vice President of Marketing & Community Engagement for United Way of the Greater Triangle. “We are grateful for everyone who came out to donate items and for our network of United Way staff, volunteers, and agency partners in all of the impacted communities for helping ensure the supplies quickly reached those who need them most.”

WRAL-TV Vice President & General Manager Steven D. Hammel said, “This confirms what the great people of central and eastern North Carolina already know, when our neighbors need help, our viewers answer the call.  We’re proud to be part of the effort with these great partners, but all the praise belongs to the people who gave and gave and gave. Bravo, North Carolina!”

“We want to sincerely thank our amazing partners and generous community for your tremendous outpouring of support,” said GoTriangle General Manager Jeff Mann. “Because of you there are many families in eastern North Carolina who will have food and other critical supplies immediately.”

For those not able to help, there are more ways you can assist those affected at this link:

wilson-group img_2315 20161027_095501

About United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT)

United Way actively mobilizes the caring power of communities to build resources, focus investments, and foster partnerships to improve lives and inspire generations of achievement in four North Carolina counties, Durham, Johnston, Orange, and Wake. A two-generational focus on vulnerable children and their families uses a collaborative approach to help break the cycle of poverty. Learn more at 

About GoTriangle

GoTriangle offers safe, reliable, and easy-to-use travel choices including bus, bike, walking, carpool, and vanpool. More information is available at


Show, Not Tell

“Hitting them right in the feels.” While it’s not the most eloquent saying, I think about that quote several times a week. It was said back in July during our Community Engagement Fellows Orientation at United Way of the Greater Triangle. As a Community Engagement Fellow, I run workplace giving campaigns at about 40 of our corporate partners, presenting the work of United Way to employees in an informative and compelling way. That being said, this saying applies to my work just about every day, because our daily operations as Community Engagement Fellows are driven by the idea that impacting people emotionally helps translate into action.

Yet, not everyone can articulate an idea like Mad Men’s Don Draper. Not everyone has a storyteller’s voice like Morgan Freeman. Not everyone can move others to feel an emotional connection in a five-minute presentation. It is often more impactful if the audience can experience the material, rather than just hear about it.

Recently, we’ve developed an activity that allows employees at partner companies the opportunity to experience the needs in our community and understand who we are and what we do at United Way. The “Changemaker Challenge Experience” is a drop-in event, designed to reach employees on their own time, which is important at many of our larger partners. For example, we recently ran the event at First Citizens Data Center, which has an employee base of over 1,000 people.

On entering the experience, employees select one of three real-life family tracks based on the experiences of the Hughes, Martinez, and Wilson families, all of whom faced serious challenges in their day-to-day living. The employees walk in these families’ shoes for two activities before being debriefed by United Way staff about how our work is helping to address the difficult choices made by families in low income households.

One of the challenges requires employees to allocate a limited amount of groceries to certain days of the week in order to feed their family. At the end, United Way staff explain how our collaborative partners walk alongside these real-life families and help them find real solutions to the challenges they face every day.

Throughout the day at First Citizens, employees showed a wide range of reactions to the experience. Some came in fairly happy and upbeat, only to grow more serious as they continued through the activity. Others were able to use their own life experience to problem solve some of the challenges they faced.

One interaction I overheard stuck with me for a while after the event. An executive was explaining the event to one of her co-workers. She explained the experience was a bit of a downer. When I first heard that, I felt a little conflicted. Our goal is never to make people feel sad or negative about our work, so I didn’t like hearing that it was bringing people’s spirits down. However, at the same time I was glad, because the experience inspired an emotional response from employees and, I believe, helped them think a little differently about life experiences.

For many people in the Triangle, facing these challenges is reality, but it can often be out-of-sight, out-of-mind for so many of us. I can confidently say it was that way for me prior to working at United Way.

At the end of the day, First Citizens staff said they had a greater appreciation for the struggles of some of our neighbors, and that appreciation translated into action. The United Way Volunteer Committee at First Citizens excitedly announced they reached their campaign goal on the first day, in large part because of the Changemaker Challenge Experience. After encountering the many challenges that members of our community face daily, employees said they were grateful for what they had, and could share. I know I am!

– Jordy Prince, 2016 Community Engagement Fellow


For more information about how United Way of the Greater Triangle works in our community, visit

To learn more about hosting a simulation, contact Natasha Wayne at UWGT, 919-463-1367.


Youth Thrive Issues a Call to Action

Youth Thrive issues call to actionIt can be tough for some young people growing up in Wake County. You might be struggling to graduate, or you might just be the one in five high school students who is a victim of bullying.  You might even feel hopeless and be thinking about suicide.

Everyone agrees we should be there for our kids, but how do we make sure that all youth thrive in our community?

That’s our goal at Youth Thrive – to bring together all the people and organizations in Wake County that serve our youth, and help them to help our young people.

Earlier this year, we convened over 100 community members from 40 organizations to create the Wake County Strategic Planning Blueprint – A Guide for Collective Impact for Wake County Youth  that will guide how we work together for the benefit of our young people.  We identified some 100 strategies – there’s lots of need in our community – but it also became clear that we’d have to focus, or it would be hard to make a difference.

So at our October “Call to Action” day, we took the next step, and are committed to make a difference in two key areas:  1) youth educational success, and 2) emotional well-being to prevent bullying and youth suicide.

Our community, government, and youth-serving organizations are prepared to stand up for our young people by working together to ensure our youth develop into successful adults.

Our goals are to ensure that:

  • 95% of third grade students read on grade level
  • 95% of students graduate high school ready for college and career
  • Youth bullying & suicides are eliminated

How are we going to do that?  Here are our “High Five” action items:

  1. Collect and share data on youth programs and outcomes.
  2. Train staff in youth organizations on suicide prevention and network together.
  3. Participate in a local Bullying Prevention Campaign by providing parents and youth with information on bullying, and appropriate social-emotional responses.
  4. Provide access to books for students, promote students choosing books of interest to encourage the love of reading and encourage 20 minutes of daily reading.
  5. Promote access to college by working to ensure that by 9th grade, all students have the opportunity to visit at least one college.

Survival guide to bullyingYes, these are big challenges.   We need everyone, working together, to make our “High Five” actions successful.  We need you, too.  Join one of our action teams on educational success, emotional well-being, or data.  Work with one of our organizations that serve youth in our community.

Together, by working toward a shared agenda, and by engaging in mutually reinforcing activities toward our goals, we can help ensure that all youth thrive.

NOTE:  UWGT is the fiscal sponsor and a funder of Youth Thrive.

Breaking Chains

Since I was young, I knew I wanted to be a part of something bigger, something life changing, something that would make me feel like I made a difference at the end of the day. I had heard of United Way, but it wasn’t until I started work as a Community Engagement Fellow that I realized what they were doing and the way they were doing it was something completely different than what I thought.

During our training, we heard the term “collaborative partnerships” over and over again, and how they fit into United Way’s “two generational approach.” This new approach sounded amazing, but I wanted to know more about what exactly it all meant and the unique impact it was having.

My first week in the field, I took part in a United Way bus tour with some of our campaign leaders, designed to give us a firsthand look at the work. When we arrived at the first collaborative, More Than a Roof, it immediately clicked. It was my ‘Ah -ha’ moment. This collaborative houses families who were once living in motels, and works with those families to provide housing, education, transportation, and employment opportunities. The outreach provided by the five nonprofit agencies in the collaborative is essential in ending the increasing rate of families living in motels. I was able to see the work they do and the incredible impact they are having in families’ lives.

I had driven past these motels many times but was blind to the harsh reality of life for the families that called them home. On our trip, we pulled into one of these motels, and at first I thought it was abandoned. The parking lot was dirty, the pool was black, smashed glass was on the sidewalk, and the back of the motel was boarded up with caution signs. I was surprised, horrified, and instantly somber. On the way out of the parking lot, I looked out the bus window and saw a little girl’s bike leaning on the side of the motel. The little pink and purple bike had a rusted metal chain wrapped around it to prevent it from being stolen. For me, this image, now engraved in my mind, represents a continuous cycle of crisis that is chaining thousands of families in our community and preventing them from breaking out of poverty.

Most of us do not think about poverty being an issue in the prosperous Triangle. While we may see the occasional person on the side of the road asking for help, we can’t imagine that 60,000 children live in poverty in this community.

However, I believe hope is not lost for these families. Hope is, in fact, alive and well with help from United Way’s 24 collaboratives. Like More Than A Roof, these collaboratives can be a family’s lifesaver to help pull them up and out of poverty. I am proud to say the work I am doing is making a difference, and is providing hope and help for thousands of families right here in the Triangle.

Learn more about our collaborative partnerships and two generational approach here:

– Sarah Hill, 2016 Community Engagement Fellow