WUSTL’s United Way campaign kicks off with $700,000 goal

United Way-funded agencies often ‘first line of defense’ for those in need, Wrighton says

Orvin Kimbrough (left), the new president and CEO of the United Way of Greater St. Louis, shares a laugh with Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton during WUSTL’s United Way campaign kick-off breakfast Aug. 29 at the Whittemore House. (Credit: Sid Hastings/WUSTL Photos)

Thanks in part to the support of the United Way of Greater St. Louis, Employment Connection helps nearly 2,000 St. Louis residents who have barriers to employment find jobs every year.

Offering more than just a job, Employment Connection provides valuable resources, training and support to inspire and empower individuals with limited opportunities — including the homeless, ex-offenders, U.S. veterans, high school dropouts, women on welfare and at-risk youth — to change their circumstances and become employed.

One of Employment Connection’s clients was Lisa, who was laid off from the job she had worked at for 26 years and forced to live in her car, unable to find a position that would hire a 58-year-old.

“I was tired of having to find a safe place to live and hoping no one would break into my car at night. I got hungry. I was eating out of a trash can. I didn’t have any money,” Lisa remembered. “It got to the point where I didn’t want to exist anymore. I was hoping that I could just disappear.”

United Way’s support allowed Employment Connection to provide Lisa a four-day program where she was taught proper résumé-writing and interview techniques. By the end of the process, Lisa was happier, more confident and within weeks, a full-time employee at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

“If it wasn’t for United Way funding Employment Connection, I wouldn’t be here today,” Lisa said. “I probably would’ve checked out.”

Stories like Lisa’s are what drive the United Way of Greater St. Louis to raise funds to help more than one million people in the bi-state area each year.

Washington University community members can help the United Way support local organizations like Employment Connection by contributing to the university’s 2013 United Way campaign, which began Aug. 29 with a kick-off breakfast at the Whittemore House.

Orvin Kimbrough, the new president and CEO of the United Way of Greater St. Louis, spoke at the campaign kick-off event.

The university’s United Way campaign goal this year is $700,000 to support nearly 170 United Way of Greater St. Louis agencies.

The United Way of Greater St. Louis supports organizations in the St. Louis region that offer an array of services, including counseling and substance abuse recovery, affordable child care, disaster relief and opportunities for exercise and recreation.

‘We all need a little help once in a while’

“United Way agencies are essential St. Louis resources and often the first line of defense for those in our community who are in need of help,” said Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. “Additionally, contributors to the United Way can always be confident that their money is getting to those in need because 90 cents on every dollar raised by the United Way finds its way to community members right when they need it most.

“As the leader of one of our region’s largest institutions and employers, I am reminded every day that the services provided by United Way agencies very often benefit some within our own Washington University family, including our 13,000 employees and their families and the more than 30,000 alumni families who call the St. Louis region home,” Wrighton continued.

“We all need a little help once in a while, and that’s a great reason to support the United Way. It’s for all of us.”

Last year, the WUSTL community donated more than $735,000 to various local causes through the United Way campaign, said Ann Prenatt, vice chancellor for human resources and chair of the university’s campaign.

WUSTL offers employees two ways to contribute: online using the HRMS system and via pledge cards, which have been sent through campus mail.

To make a pledge online, visit hr.wustl.edu and use your WUSTL KEY to sign into HRMS Self Service. Click on Employee Self Service and select United Way Pledges. For assistance with passwords, call the Help Desk at (314) 935-5707.

The WUSTL campaign officially ends in late October, but the Office of Human Resources will accept pledges up until the end of the calendar year and beyond.

WUSTL’s drive coincides with the United Way of Greater St. Louis’ own $72,250,000 campaign, which is co-chaired by Ron Fromm, chairman of the board of Brown Shoe Co., and his wife, Cheri.

United Way-supported agencies serve a large, diverse population of more than one million people each year in 16 counties in Missouri and Illinois — approximately one of every three in the St. Louis area.

For more information about the United Way of Greater St. Louis, visit stl.unitedway.org.