At United Way of the Bluegrass, we are currently celebrating our centennial year, and are highlighting 100 Heroes who have been important in our fight for the basic needs, education and financial stability of our neighbors over the past century.
We recently interviewed Augusta Julian, a former Board Chair from 2014-2015, to learn more about her and her role with United Way of the Bluegrass.
What is your current or former role within United Way of the Bluegrass and what does a typical day look like in this role?
I was a Board Member for a term and I was the Board Chair from 2014-2015. I would work with Bill Farmer, the president of United Way of the Bluegrass at the time. We would deal with issues that came up or prepare for board meetings while trying to help the overall organization and its mission.
What is your favorite project that you have worked on with UWBG or that you have seen UWBG work on?
Prior to the year that I became Board Chair, the issue had come up about some of our funded partners and their nondiscrimination policies. It was a time where a lot of organizations had to reevaluate their position around LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion. We put together a committee to look at United Way of the Bluegrass and what our position would be on funding organizations that were not inclusive, or who did not adhere to a nondiscrimination policy that aligned with ours.
We took about 2-3 months to research what other organizations were doing and how they were responding. I was pleased to be a part of this important discussion. We came to the resolution that United Way of the Bluegrass would not fund organizations that had discriminating policies for their operations. The decision was made that any charitable organization that we funded needed to provide a statement of inclusion as part of their grant process.
This change in policy was challenging for some, but I think we were on the right side of history. This said a lot about United Way of the Bluegrass, that they were willing to take that kind of position with such a potentially polarizing issue to ensure that every member of our community was represented and valued.
Today many organizations have stepped back from their original viewpoints and they are no longer allowing discriminating policies. It was a time of differing opinions and I think the organization took the right position and did a very positive thing for our community.
If you were encouraging someone to get involved with UWBG, what would you encourage them to do throughout their time with UWBG, or what advice would you give them?
I would tell them to look at the good United Way of the Bluegrass does. Historically, anyone who has been in a community with United Way knows that there is a lot of need in every community and that there are many folks who need assistance with basic needs so they can move ahead. United Way helps families raise children who are going to be civically responsible, educated and contribute to society. Giving someone the chance to do that themselves is one of the many wonderful things UWBG does.
I would then tell them to look at the commitment of the leadership and the community leaders who are involved with United Way of the Bluegrass. The value that UWBG brings to the community and the help it brings to those who want a different life is clear.
The focus on education really connected me more directly with my professional career as the retired president of Bluegrass Community and Technical College, but you have to have all of the basics before you think about what else you want to do or what you can contribute. The holistic perspective on what people need and how to help folks have a better life are important parts of United Way of the Bluegrass.
In your opinion, what positive change has UWBG made in the Bluegrass over the past 100 years?
The value of the support that United Way of the Bluegrass provides people can’t be labeled or enumerated. Even an amount of money that some people would think is a small amount can make a huge difference in helping with tuition, childcare, transportation, giving someone the opportunity to earn their GED or anything someone views as a need to take their next step forward. These things are priceless for someone that needs that one thing, but doesn’t have the resources to make progress on their goals. It’s priceless to them. You can’t put a price on the value that United Way of the Bluegrass and the organizations they fund bring to the community. It means so much to people.
What is your favorite local restaurant in the Bluegrass area?
I would have to say, Bella Notte.
What is your favorite place and thing to do in the Bluegrass area?
I enjoy walking in the Lexington Cemetery. It’s beautiful, peaceful and a nice place to be on a lovely morning when the flowers have bloomed and the trees are budding.
Thank you for being such a strong part of UWBG, Augusta! We appreciate you and all that you've done.
“I’m really pleased that there is an organization like United Way of the Bluegrass here in Central Kentucky. I wish them many years, another 100, of good support for folks in our local area.” ~Augusta Julian
To learn more about how we are continuing to serve the Bluegrass in 2021, click here.
Do you know someone who has worked alongside United Way of the Bluegrass in the past century who should be considered for our 100 Heroes series? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your nomination!