Last month, a group of volunteers met to make Halloween goodie bags and label donated books for United Way’s Ready.Set.READ! Program. They trickled in after work, coming from workplaces across the county: Penske Truck Leasing, UGI Energy Services, Tompkins VIST Bank, and others. The volunteers, members of Emerging Leaders United (ELU), are part of an affinity group of United Way of Berks County. United Way Associate Shirley Chapin describes this important program as “providing emerging leaders in our community the chance to connect, give back, understand the needs of the community, and develop or enhance skills.”
ELU offers a wide range of volunteer events, community-driven socials, and personal/professional opportunities. The 400+ members are diverse young individuals drawn to the work of United Way and the ease of participation. Long-time member Ken Lebron, whose schedule is busy as the Deputy Director of Berks County Veteran’s Affairs, calls it a “win-win-win…volunteer opportunities a la carte.”
First-time participant Katrese Bradly is a social worker at Reading School District. She loves volunteering and was thrilled to discover ELU, an organization where she knows she can make a difference to the community in a positive group setting.
ELU Vice-Chair, Sidney Purnell, found joining the group shortly after moving to Berks County helped her forge new relationships, engage in the community and develop professional skills directly applicable to her career in the communications sector at UGI Utilities.
While enjoying the camaraderie, ELU members assembled more than 300 goodie bags, which were delivered the next day to children at Opportunity House and YMCA. The labeled Ready, Set, READ! books will be added to the 1,000 books already distributed by United Way this year to children, families and organizations located in book deserts, to build home libraries and provide access to quality books for early readers.
ELU: Building Connections and a Stronger Community