ELU Member Amanda Funk Reflects on 2020

Posted by: Amanda Funk, Emerging Leaders United member and Grants and Media Manager at Abilities in Motion

It’s certainly been a year to remember! I’ve loved being an active member of Emerging Leaders United (ELU), especially during this pandemic. Being connected to a community and working for a purpose beyond myself has kept me grounded as I’ve been trying to regain my footing since our world turned upside down.

We were off to a great start this year with the DiSC Personality Types, which really helped me to work better with my team at the office and understand myself better, and programs planned to set young professionals up for financial success…and then the unexpected hit us with a global pandemic and economic shutdown.

At first, I loved the novelty of breaking from the everyday routine. Being at home felt so comforting, and my productivity saw a significant boost. But it’s hard spending so much time apart from other people and just waiting for things to change, and I’ve been so grateful for the ongoing ELU events we were able to have despite pandemic restrictions.

It’s easy to get caught up in all of my own challenges and forget to look outward to my community, so continuing to volunteer for ELU events was crucial to staying focused on doing as much good as I could when it seemed so much else was out of my control. Even small acts like preparing a meal for Safe Berks for Mother’s Day helped me feel connected to something larger than myself. My kids were excited to help cook and deliver the meal with me, and I think that helped them feel like they had a little more agency, too. Practicing generosity has played a huge role in keeping our spirits up. It’s amazing the kind of feast we can cook up with a team of ELU volunteers!

I especially appreciated the educational components of our ELU events and learning all about the important work countless organizations are doing to improve the wellbeing of our neighbors, including how that need has been amplified by the current crisis. And I think so many of us needed some help thinking about how to handle our finances during emergencies like this, so I’m especially appreciative of those virtual opportunities for personal development.

I was astounded at the abundance of donations at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and learning how sales fund the majority of the nonprofit’s operations. I loved seeing the transformation of the newly renovated rooms of the Habitat house after our cleaning efforts, presenting such a clear view of the impact our actions can have when we work together.

I’ve loved the feeling of camaraderie in working alongside other ELU members cleaning up our trail at Nolde Forest this year, learning so much about the forest, taking pictures of brightly colored mushrooms and salamanders, and sliding through the mud (even when that wasn’t part of the plan). We had fun working together at Hannah’s Hope weeding the garden and painting a beautiful bedroom for a newcomer to the shelter.

Packing duffle bags with books and essentials for foster children through CASA reminded me of how lucky my family has been to have all that we need and more, now and for as long as I can remember. And spreading some holiday cheer to Hope Rescue Mission reminded me of how much of a transformation we can bring about as a decorating force…and how much our environment impacts our sense of warmth, hope, and security.

Even though the way we serve may look a little different at the moment, our impact as a group is clear. With dedicated young professionals consistently showing up for our community day after day, no matter the current crisis, our future is looking bright. Thank you to all of the ELU volunteers who’ve shown us their incredible dedication to community service in 2020, and I look forward to serving with you again in the New Year!

Emerging Leaders United is a group of individuals, ages 21-45, interested in making a difference in our community while furthering their owner personal and professional development. To learn more, or to join us, visit our ELU page.