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.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we are excited to feature some women who have played an important role in UWBG. Today we are interviewing Caryl Pfeiffer, the Chair of Women United, a member of our Board of Directors, a former Loaned Executive, and a longtime supporter of the United Way of the Bluegrass mission.
What is your role with UWBG?
Almost thirty years ago, I had the opportunity to be a Loaned Executive. I worked for Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas & Electric, and through them I got to spend 3 months with United Way during their campaign season. During these months, I worked in Bourbon, Clark and Scott county, which really gave me the view of UWBG as a regional organization. It was the first time I had ever interacted with nonprofits that were supported by United Way, and it was amazing to see the work they were doing out in their communities.
What did this role include? What would a normal day look like for you?
I am currently part of the group that is working to put WayPoint centers in neighborhoods in Fayette and Bourbon County. Probably the biggest role I’ve played through the years is helping to launch Women United, which is an initiative for women that is aimed at providing additional funding for early childhood education in UWBG’s area. Statistics say that over half of Fayette County’s children aren’t prepared for kindergarten when they start. Women United is trying to make an impact before a child gets to kindergarten so that they’re ready to start learning on their first day.
Can you tell me about the partnership between KU and UWBG?
We are involved with United Way of the Bluegrass and with Metro United Way in Louisville. We have one big annual giving campaign that includes both United Ways, the Children’s Crusade in Louisville, and funds for the arts. One huge plus for UWBG is that the company matches our donations 50 cents on the dollar. This last year, due to the pandemic, they actually matched our donations 75 cents on the dollar. As a corporation, we had our largest campaign ever last year.
We will also sponsor specific events with Girl Scouts, which is one of the organizations that United Way supports. We do STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programming with the Girl Scouts and also have an educational component to our giving at the foundation level of the company. KU supports an annual event by Women United which is about educating women about how we can make more of an impact on preschool children’s education.
What do you think is the most special thing about UWBG?
I would say that the most special part of UWBG is the people. We have moved away from “giving money away” to investing in people and this is at the top of mind for leadership and staff. There are also great partnerships with nonprofits in Central Kentucky that accomplish so much and have outcomes that people can see.
In your opinion, what positive change has UWBG made in the Bluegrass over the past 100 years?
UWBG is the first level of helping people secure basic needs, which has been proven during the pandemic. We’ve always been there to provide basic needs throughout the century and we have put a lot of thought into where our investment will have the biggest positive impact for the people in the community.
What’s your favorite place in the Bluegrass?
I would say the Arboretum.
What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bluegrass?
I love Keeneland and going on the Bourbon Trail. I’m not a bourbon drinker, but my husband is and we just toured the grounds of Castle and Key (not the actual distillery because that isn’t open yet).
Thank you for being such a strong part of UWBG, Caryl! We appreciate you and all that you do.
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 email@example.com to share your nomination!