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 Coos Ockers, who is a former member of our Board of Directors and Clark County Board of Trustees, as well as a former volunteer with our RSVP Trailblazers program and longtime supporter of our mission.
What is your role with UWBG?
I served as the Chairman of the Clark County Board of Trustees, where I ran the yearly campaign. I was also on the Board of Directors that term because the chairmen of various counties are also a part of the main, regional board. Aside from that, I have always tried to support United Way. I was also involved as a volunteer with the RSVP Trailblazers program for 6 or 7 years. I taught self-made classes to 5th graders, where I would stand in front of a class and teach for about an hour. I did that at Fannie Bush Elementary School and at Justice Elementary, as well. We would sometimes combine classes, and you really get an appreciation of what teachers do every day when you have to stand in front of a class of 25 students or more for many hours.
What did this role include? What would a normal day look like for you?
As the Board Chair, I was always working on setting up and preparing for the annual fundraising campaign. Mostly this involved making calls to local businesses and companies. You want the company to get on board to run an employee giving campaign and engage with United Way. Other duties included maintaining contact with other leaders in the community and making sure the community is well-represented on the board, and communicating United Way’s significance in our community.
What do you think is the most special thing about UWBG?
It’s still one of the largest fundraising and nonprofit organizations in the Bluegrass, and there is a lot of heritage there. My first encounter with United Way was around 1975, and I was impressed with the organization, what it stood for, and how it was handled. I became a believer of this type of fundraising and impact model - and still am. I think United Way has proven to be an efficient and effective organization in any community. It’s still relevant today and should continue to be in the future.
In your opinion, what positive change has UWBG made in the Bluegrass over the past 100 years?
Going into schools and tutoring has changed the lives of children. UWBG has helped reduce poverty and supports families to become self-sufficient by offering financial independence training and education, which I believe is the right way to do it. We’re trying to make a real difference in teaching people, and helping them get jobs, and helping them become self-sufficient and successful in the long-term. UWBG has done that numerous times. I think that’s a good goal to have and they are succeeding.
What’s your favorite place in the Bluegrass?
Winchester! I’ve lived here for almost 10 years now and it’s a really nice community. Winchester is also a very charitable city. If you look at what we give per capita compared to larger, more prosperous counties, we’re right up there. People have been concerned about losing Main Street, so they’ve been working on revitalizing downtown for a long time and those efforts are finally paying off. We also have a great radio station, 102.9, in Winchester, and I think overall it’s just a very nice community.
What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bluegrass?
I’m retired now, so I love to work in and around the house. I’ve always loved that, because my job used to be sitting behind a computer all day. Now I love to work with my hands by repairing stuff, gardening, mowing the lawn, painting the house and staying busy. I also like visiting with the kids, but unfortunately we haven’t been able to do that for the past year.
Thank you for being such a strong part of UWBG, Coos! 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!