At United Way of the Bluegrass (UWBG), we are currently celebrating our centennial year, 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 spoke with Jade Miles, UWBG’s Young Leaders Society (YLS) president and account manager at Lexmark to learn more about her role and relationship 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 got started with United Way of the Bluegrass with Lexmark's internship program. Students would get together during the summertime and would volunteer somewhere like GreenHouse17 or The Hearing and Speech Center. It was fun for students and a good way to give back to the community.
From this role, I moved into a community relations role and joined the Lexmark leadership team for the United Way of the Bluegrass campaign. I worked in Human Resources and I would budget for t-shirts, get the t-shirts to hand out to employees and answer any questions regarding donations. Then, I would help out in any way that I could with the campaign kickoff and our leadership breakfast.
I am now in account management sales for Lexmark, but I am still connected to United Way of the Bluegrass as the current president of the Young Leaders Society. The YLS strives to get the younger professional group to give back to the community and recognizes those leaders. We got to volunteer this year for UWBG’s Days of Action. We plan events and try to get people involved by reaching out to young professionals, letting them know what we are doing and getting more people to join YLS.
If encouraging someone to get involved with United Way of the Bluegrass, what would you encourage them to do throughout their time with UWBG (or what advice would you give them)?
I would tell someone to learn more about what United Way of the Bluegrass does. I’ve met a lot of people that don’t know what United Way of the Bluegrass does for our community. The more you try to learn and get out and volunteer, the more you truly understand exactly what United Way is doing. You know where your dollars are going to support the community. That’s when you start to build a passion for it and become attached to United Way of the Bluegrass and the good that it does. You want to be a part of it. Learn more, get involved and volunteer.
What is your favorite memory of United Way of the Bluegrass?
I have multiple favorite memories.
At Lexmark, we do care days where we get our groups together and volunteer. We haven’t been able to do it because of COVID-19, but I always look forward to our care days. It is a good bonding opportunity for our team, a good way to give back and we always enjoyed it. It was fun to see people doing different activities like painting walls. You kind of learn some of your skills, what you may be good at and what you may be bad at.
I would also say our campaign kickoff. Our Lexmark team is really passionate and does a great job trying to get more people involved. We put on fun activities and it’s always a great time. One year we had big dartboards, putt-putt golf and ice cream. It’s always fun getting together, to tie in with the United Way of the Bluegrass and to see people start to learn more about what UWBG does. People get involved all while enjoying each other and getting to hang out outside of a typical work day.
The Sweet Dreams Project is always fun and is coming up soon. We get books, pajamas and other items that children will need during the holiday break and stuff bags like an assembly line. We go to schools in underrepresented communities to deliver them. One time I went dressed up in a Grinch onesie costume and another YLS member read the Grinch book to the class. We gave them gift bags bags with non-perishable snacks, a pair of pajamas, a book, toothpaste and a toothbrush. We got to see them open them and see the excitement on their faces. They were “wooing” and “yaying” and it is an experience I will never forget. To see the excitement on their faces was amazing. I would encourage people to look into the Sweet Dreams Project, it is near and dear to my heart.
What is the most special thing about United Way of the Bluegrass?
How far they reach and the amount they do in the community is really special. I want more people to know and understand what they do. I encourage people to go to the United Way of the Bluegrass website. Look at 211, for example. There are so many things United Way of the Bluegrass does and they reach out to so many different communities. They help people get on their feet and help people live a life where they can take care of themselves and their families. People who work for United Way of the Bluegrass have a passion for working with the community and giving back and that’s special to me. It’s amazing to see how people get involved by doing research and showing up to volunteer. You can see the impact when you volunteer and you can see where your dollars go to help organizations better our communities.
If you were to move away, what would you want to take with you from the Bluegrass area (or what would you miss most)?
I would miss the two things you get from living here. You get the city piece with a lot of things to do and a lot of good restaurants, but you get the homey feel, as well. The people and the environment make the Bluegrass what it is. I feel like you get the best of both worlds and that’s hard to find in other places.
What is your favorite local restaurant in the Bluegrass area?
I don’t know if I can pick just one. One would be Blue Door Smokehouse. It’s a barbeque place here and I just love their brisket. It’s a small place and I feel like you can go and sit and talk to people because it’s so close. I also like Buddha Lounge for sushi. Their buddha roll is one of my favorites and I’m there way too often. Honorable mentions would be Carson's and Josie's.
Thank you for being such a strong part of UWBG, Jade! We appreciate you and all that you've done and continue to do.
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 email@example.com to share your nomination!