Over the course of 2021, we will feature 100 Heroes who have been instrumental in our fight for the basic needs, education and financial stability of our neighbors for the past century. To learn more about how we are continuing to serve the Bluegrass in 2021, click here.
Today we are interviewing Carol Bates, a former Vice President of regional partnerships at UWBG.
How does UWBG serve people in the Bluegrass?
UWBG serves the citizens of the Bluegrass region in a few different ways. One is through their 211 program that allows individuals to call trained personnel that can provide helpful solutions for the caller’s needs, and direct them on needed documentation that will be required for a successful outcome on addressing their needs. This also provides data on community needs and unmet services that are needed for the region. This links to the second way that UWBG provides service to its community. The organization can provide funding to programs and agencies that are addressing needs in our service area. Funding can be directed at target areas that will take care of today’s needs and provide stepping stone opportunities for individuals and families.
What do you think is the most special thing about UWBG?
Whether you are an individual or an employee of a United Way supporter (company), you have the opportunity to become part of the solution. Volunteer opportunities are available through the funded programs, and the organization, to help those of interest to become more educated on their community through human care services, and to help in providing solutions to moving the community forward.
In your opinion, what positive change has UWBG made in the Bluegrass over the past 100 years?
As a community based organization, the biggest influence for the organization is the climate of the services area and changes that occur in that community. Each year of its history, the organization has been able to adapt to external changes, and still maintain its identity. For example, during World War II, UWBG decided not to conduct an annual fund drive. Instead, its community leadership supported the local war bonds campaign. And as the years moved forward, the organization’s leadership joined a national United Way movement and later expanded its service area from one county to 10 counties. Regardless of the year, positive changes have occurred because the organization listened to their donors and community leaders, and recognized the community needs.
What is your favorite UWBG memory?
After 36 years of employment with United Way, I have many wonderful memories. The most special ones are where I learned from the volunteers. Midway in my career, I was having lunch with a senior level corporate volunteer to share with them a major United Way policy change and to convince this individual to help sell it to other community leaders. Halfway through our conversation, this individual looked at me and told me that I was not listening to him. In his opinion, the solution was already resolved and we were just going through the motions. It surprised me for him to be so straightforward with me, I very politely put away the document of interest, and sat back and listened to his concerns. In the end, he supported the policy change and led the change with other community leaders. Today, this volunteer and I remain good friends. And I became a better listener.
Thank you for being such a strong part of UWBG, Carol! We appreciate you and all that you've done.
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!