United Way HPE: Why Get Involved?
Tim Bannon’s involvement with United Way Hastings & Prince Edward began about 40 years ago when he first moved to the area and became a participant in one of their workplace payroll deduction campaigns. Since then, that role has evolved from monetary donations to active volunteerism, including a two-year stint as the organization’s Board of Director’s Chairperson. We recently chatted with Tim about what the United Way means to him.
Interview by Angela Hawn
Describe how your support of the United Way started.
I’d heard a little about it beforehand, and it felt like a good fit. I figured this was a really good way to make one donation that might help a lot of different partner organizations, a great way to support a whole lot of people who need it.
What does your volunteer work look like?
In addition to membership on United Way’s Board of Directors, I’ve been involved with the Allocation Committee for fifteen-plus years. That’s a Citizen Review Panel that looks at agency applications for funding. There’s a lot of reading and review and it’s quite time-consuming, but those committees play an important part in determining how funds get distributed to all the various agencies. The bonus: something like this really increases your knowledge of how everything works. You’ll come away with a detailed understanding of where your money is going and who it helps.
How do you think United Way makes an impact on our community?
Working with the Allocation Committee involves hearing about people who’ve been helped by partner agencies. The stories that really hit home for me personally begin with someone who has led a troubled life, someone without hope when they started one of the programs United Way helps fund. But with just that little bit of support and encouragement, people often turn their lives around. The next thing you know, they’re going back to school, sometimes for post-secondary education. It’s really quite amazing, a wonderful result from someone’s getting that little bit of help when they really needed it.
Where do you see the greatest need?
Food insecurity and people without homes are enormous problems, issues that have become a lot more visible, both locally and right across the country. I know these are areas where United Way can play a role, but also one in which various levels of government need to step up. It’s a big gap to fill.
What inspires your own volunteer work?
I like to think I’m helping better the community in some way, making it stronger and helping create a place where everybody has more opportunity. Through my own engagement with United Way, I see what’s happening, and the community is definitely a better place as a result of their agency partners’ efforts.
What’s one of the best things about United Way from your donor/volunteer perspective?
One of United Way’s best attributes involves quality assurance. The funding allocation process involves a high level of scrutiny and ensuring partner organizations provide maximum positive impact. The staff is really plugged into what’s happening with community partners. They know program strengths and where the need for improvement might lie. They can even provide some strategic planning or training. Many people might think they’re all about funding, but they’re really much more than that.
Any advice for a potential volunteer?
I encourage people to do their research. So much information with respect to both the United Way and also their 40-plus partner organizations exists. Educate yourself as much as you can and it will strengthen your resolve to help.