At United Way of the Bluegrass, we are currently celebrating our centennial year. We are 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.
Today we are interviewing Laura Babbage, former UWBG Board Member and Campaign Chair.
What is your current or former role within UWBG and what does a typical day look like in this role?
Throughout the decade of the 90s, I served with United Way of the Bluegrass in many roles. From 1993 to 2000, I served on the Board of Directors. I was the Pacesetter Chair in 1992, the Winners Circle Chair in 1993, the Agency Director in 1994, the Campaign Director for two years starting in 1996, and the Campaign Chair in 1997.
During this timeframe I took lots of phone calls. During my agency relations days, I met with many agencies in the Bluegrass. At the time we were reformatting how to distribute funds. The whole process changed significantly during the years I was serving on the Board. A typical day depended on when agencies were available to talk. Some days were spent helping agencies with volunteers for clean-up, painting and other projects they never had time to do because they are constantly serving the community.
In the other roles, I attended a lot of meetings to decide how we were going to ask companies to become involved with United Way of the Bluegrass. Most companies have been involved in United Way of the Bluegrass for many years and we helped them run their employee giving campaign if they needed help. Most companies didn’t - it was like clockwork for them. It was always a lot of fun working with many smart, brilliant people who really care about our community. It made a big difference.
How has United Way changed your life or how have you seen UWBG change the lives of others?
I have served on many boards in Lexington. Having served on boards who are also United Way funded partners, I was familiar with the work of not only the agencies, but also of United Way of the Bluegrass. I knew what funding meant to our community and to the organizations I served with.
We were interested in not duplicating services because we wanted to make sure if two agencies were doing the same thing we could combine their efforts. Without United Way funding, many agencies couldn’t survive and meet the needs that we were so aware of in the community.
If encouraging someone to get involved with UWBG, what would you encourage them to do throughout their time with UWBG, or what advice would you give them?
First, I would tell them you get to work with incredibly smart, committed and gifted people. Everyone from the staff and board members, to agencies and their boards. There are also so many amazing communitarians who just love our community and want to do something good for someone other than themselves.
I would also try to be encouraging to them as well. They will feel good about their gifts and how they can be used in the community. They will meet so many gifted people they will get to work with. That makes all the difference.
In your opinion, what positive change has UWBG made in the Bluegrass over the past 100 years?
United Way of the Bluegrass has been incredibly generous to community partners and corporations that simply want to help others. Without United Way, many of the needs in this community could not have been met the way they have.
I would say that United Way of the Bluegrass has used its own ability to talk to people and bring people together in such a way that the whole community has been the beneficiary. Everyone who needs the human services that United Way programs provide have been the incredible beneficiaries of United Way’s support.
United Way of the Bluegrass has been able to give their best advice to organizations that perhaps didn't have a piece of knowledge or a person with the expertise they needed. United Way provides incredible expertise to our partners and community. We also create an opportunity for agencies to come together to talk about what they’re doing and how they can work together to accomplish even more.
If you were trying to convince someone to move to the Bluegrass area, how would you convince them?
I would say we have great places to eat, amazing school systems, incredible corporate support for anything you want to do in Lexington, Kentucky and we have one of the greatest communities for volunteerism. It’s a great place to live and raise a family.
What is your favorite local restaurant in the Bluegrass area?
I would probably say Coles, Dudley's and Good Foods Co-op. Our family also eats a lot of Chipotle. We love the chain a lot.
Thank you for being such a strong part of UWBG, Laura! We appreciate you and all that you've done.
“It has been an incredible honor to work with United Way of the Bluegrass and give back. I learned a lot and I learned how to do good work even better. It was a really great experience.” ~Laura Babbage
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!