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It is such an honor for me to be part of the United Way organization as a donor, volunteer, and board member.  In just a few months, I have already met many generous, kind, and smart people that share their time, money and talents to help United Way and all of the people we serve in the community.

Susan Wildermuth, Brian Huels, Keriann Kirkeng and fellow board member Lynsey Schwabrow are four of my colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater that have worked hard to raise money for the United Way through our workplace campaign.  When I asked Susan why she gets involved with the United Way, she gave me the most interesting answer:

“The short answer is COVID and international study abroad.  In Spring 2020, I had a sabbatical and I participated in a program called Semester at Sea.  I was on a ship for the semester (well, it was supposed to be for the semester—of course it ended early).  Anyway, we spent a lot of time in Vietnam and South Africa and experienced poverty and homelessness in ways I had only read about or imagined prior to teaching there.  I came home determined to do more to make a difference in my community.  COVID, the protests, and the summer that followed my spring abroad only reinforced that feeling as I saw how devastating the US cultural ideal of individualism was in a time of national crisis.  My family and I knew that it was time for us to practice more kindness and to do more to put our values in action.”

Susan takes time out of her days to help encourage her colleagues to donate some of their salary to this organization.  She helps highlight the value the United Way brings to this community and inspires others to “put their values to action.”

Whether you volunteer or donate, I want to thank each of you for practicing kindness and giving back. Because of the way you live your life, each of you make life a little better for our neighbors and we greatly appreciate you for it.

Ryan Grady
United Way Board Member
Associate Director of Pre-College Programs, UW-Whitewater