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 Kristi Middleton, who is a former member of our hardworking Board of Directors.
What is your role with UWBG?
I’ve been involved with United Way for a long time and have participated in the workplace campaigns at my last three employers. That’s how I was introduced to the work that UWBG does. I was invited to be in the first class of a program they used to have called “Get on Board” whose purpose was to train potential board members to serve on nonprofit boards across central Kentucky. After that, my first board placement was with the Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road Council, which was something that was always near and dear to my heart because I was a girl scout all through childhood. After that, I served on the UWBG Board of Directors, which was a really rewarding experience to be a part of some of the decisions that really drive the United Way’s work.
I’m also involved with my workplace campaign in my current role at Eastern Kentucky University. One of the most rewarding programs I’ve been a part of in the last several years is their Women United program. We have a day-long event each year where we bring women together and hear guest speakers and tackle a focus topic. Being a part of the Women United program has been a really rewarding experience.
What did this role include? What would a normal day look like for you?
I’ve always been a representative of education. One of the things that UWBG does that really means a lot to me is they help people become financially stable through education. I was very involved in early discussions to help figure out how we could establish partnerships with higher education institutions in central Kentucky.
Can you describe the Eastern Kentucky University’s workplace campaign for UWBG?
We like to get our employees excited about supporting the United Way. We’ve had some breakfast events for people to drop in and learn about UWBG and to recognize those who participate in our campaign. Last year we had an event where anyone who had been a part of our workplace giving campaign was invited to a chili supper before one of our basketball games. At halftime, the current CEO of UWBG, Timothy Johnson, was recognized on the floor along with our President. It was nice to be able to have a fun night recognizing the work that we do and getting the word out about how our employees can support it. We also had a contest a few years ago where the President of the University spent the day with the department who had had the most participation in the campaign. So our President worked in our library, shelving books and answering questions at the help desk. He loves to read, loves books, and has a lot of respect for what librarians do, but it was funny because he was told to quiet down a few times and at the end of his shift he was very ready to go back to his office.
What do you think is the most special thing about UWBG?
I think the most special thing is how far-reaching it is. There are a lot of great nonprofits in central Kentucky, but they are very focused on the specific needs of specific clients that they serve. What means the most to me about supporting United Way with my time or resources is that you know when you’re a part of United Way, you’re going to touch many different organizations and people. If you support United Way, you can touch so many different parts of our community. There are causes that are near and dear to all of our hearts and sometimes it’s hard to decide which one to support. With United Way, you can know that your resources are going much further because they help so many different programs and organizations.
In your opinion, what positive change has UWBG made in the Bluegrass over the past 100 years?
I think one of the biggest things that UWBG has done is raising the visibility and brand of local partners and the work that they do. The United Way is able to bring a collective voice and vision to serving our community. They are well-recognized, well-respected and at the forefront of responding to needs in our community. I think a lot about the partnerships in education. United Way helps get people in local schools to be mentors to struggling students through their RSVP Trailblazers program. UWBG can always be depended on to be there to support our community whenever there is a need.
What’s your favorite place in the Bluegrass?
I love going to Raven Run, McConnell Springs, and the Red River Gorge area. I love that some natural preserves are just minutes away from a downtown area or city. I like to hike, be outside, and go camping - going back to my Girl Scout days. I love our great outdoor spaces.
What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bluegrass?
Not so much anymore, but if I’m not outside walking or hiking, my favorite thing to do is connect with friends and family at a local restaurant or coffee shop.
Thank you for being such a strong part of UWBG, Kristi! 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to share your nomination!