On January 11, I walked into the United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area as the new Volunteer Center Director. In less than ten months, I would have to pull off the 20th anniversary of the United Way Laurence E. Richardson Day of Caring. I had big shoes to fill and I was nervous about whether or not I’d be able to meet the expectations.
Planning for the event started early in the spring, but no amount of planning could have prepared me as much as living through the experience. I knew that as much as I prepared and planned, I’d have to see, hear and feel the United Way Day of Caring to really understand it. The experience of that day is something that I will never forget.
I woke up at 2:15am on September 21st to the sound of my alarm and I got ready for the day, leaving my house at 3:30am to start my hour commute to Charlottesville. Our staff started right away to prep the parking lot for the 500 people we expected that morning.
Hundreds of balloons, two television interviews and one radio interview later, it was time to kick-off the breakfast. The rally flew by with performances by State Farm’s Choir, speakers and great food provided by State Farm.
From the breakfast, we all headed out to visit as many project sites as possible to thank the volunteers. The rest of the day felt like a flash and before I knew it, we were back at the office putting all of our banners and signs back in the basement… and the day was over.
Now, just 256 days after I started and two days after the United Way Day of Caring, I can’t help but reflect on the experience:
This community is amazing! I was really touched by seeing the joy of both the volunteers and the people they worked with.
- The United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area staff members were huge supporters of me in this event and I was floored by how happy they were to wake up so early to make the day a success.
- I was thrilled by how many United Way board members volunteered their time on projects that day or traveled around to help us thank the volunteers.
- Being overly organized and making tons of to-do lists (yes, I’m an old fashioned pen and paper kind of girl) isn’t always a bad thing! Without my to-do lists, I don’t know if I would have made it through.
- As stressful as the planning process could be at times, I am 100% confident that I have the best job in the entire world. To be able to plan an event that brings so much value to the nonprofit and public school community and bring so much joy to the volunteers is both humbling and rewarding.
I owe a HUGE thank you to all of our sponsors, my colleagues, our United Way Board members, all of the nonprofits, schools, volunteers, the media and the local community for making the 20th United Way Laurence E. Richardson Day such a success story and for helping to make my job so rewarding!
Posted by Jessica Snyder
United Way Volunteer Center Director