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 Lu Young, who is a former member of our Board of Directors, as well as the former Chair from 2015 to 2017.
What is your role within UWBG?
I used to be on the Jessamine County Board of Trustees for UWBG, and from there I was invited to become a member of the Board of Directors. I served several terms there and eventually chaired for three years until my last term ended and I rotated off. I’ve also been a member of the Women United group.
What does this role include? What would a normal day look like for you?
Of course all of the volunteer work was in addition to my day job, but part of it was attending regular fiduciary meetings. When I started out as a Board of Trustees member, we were really active in the annual fundraising campaign. We ran our own Jessamine County campaign, which was very hands-on and kept me engaged with the local businesses and community-based partners - and I enjoyed that so much. When I came on the Board of Directors, we did the same thing, just on a macro scale. I really enjoyed the opportunity to work with all ten counties that are a part of UWBG and the individual groups from each county.
Being on the Board came with meeting and oversight responsibilities, but we also had the chance, like all volunteers, to roll up our sleeves and to provide some direct services and support from time to time. UWBG was really focused on the three prongs, which are basic needs, financial stability and education. Because my background is in education, I often worked with education partners in the UWBG service area. For example, when we first started talking about the impact of education and how we would measure that, I got to work with a lot of folks and partner agencies in thinking about the big ideas relating to what educational attainment and improvement in the Bluegrass region would look like. Working with the team at UWBG was always a fun part of my day-to-day as well.
As a faculty member at the University of Kentucky’s College of Education, one of UWBG’s partners, can you tell us about that partnership?
I just started my seventh year at UK, so the partnership between UK and UWBG predates me. As I rotated off the board and was no longer in a formal leadership position with United Way, it’s been really gratifying to come to UK, which is such a great partner of UWBG, and continue my service through my workplace employment. It’s been a natural transition for me.
What do you think is the most special thing about UWBG?
This may sound a little trite, but I believe it’s the people within the organization, from the staff to the Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees. It’s a very special kind of relationship for these ten counties to band together and take a regional stewardship approach to fundraising and offer assistance to community agencies and partners. That takes a lot of trust. The foundation of UWBG is this interconnected, trusting relationship among the ten counties. The pooling of resources, talent and ideas to better serve the whole region is so unique compared to individual, siloed approaches to community services and support.
In your opinion, what positive change has UWBG made in the Bluegrass over the past 100 years?
During my involvement over the past twenty years or so, I’ve seen a really consistent focus over basic needs, education and financial stability. By targeting support in those three areas, I really believe that we have maximized the outcomes. Over time, we’ve put in place and revised a system where we develop trusting relationships with agency partners. UWBG has definitely made an impact in those three areas and they have a solid reputation in our region and communities. I think we’re all better for the efforts of UWBG and I’m really appreciative of the leadership that continues to carry on with that level of integrity and selflessness.
What’s your favorite place in the Bluegrass?
My favorite place is definitely Jessamine County, where I live. I was raised in this region and it’s really beautiful in every season. My favorite spot in the Bluegrass is the Palisades area, right here in Jessamine County. I always feel a real kinship with nature when I’m there.
What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bluegrass?
My absolute favorite thing to do these days is playing with my 2-year-old grandson, Ellis. When I’m not doing that, I love to sit by the pool and read.
Thank you for being such a strong part of UWBG, Lu! 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!