Posted by: Shirley Chapin, Emerging Leaders United and Online Engagement Associate
Following my college graduation, I relocated to Berks County to begin my career with another company. I moved here not knowing anyone, the community, or ways to get connected. It was a difficult transition, and my older coworkers didn’t have suggestions on how I could connect with people my age.
This is a story we hear often, but thanks to United Way of Berks County’s affinity group, Emerging Leaders United (ELU), individuals ages 21-45 can find ways to get connected and involved.
The mission of ELU is to connect, educate, and empower individuals through volunteerism and philanthropy. With this mission in mind, ELU offers opportunities to get involved in the community, meet a variety of individuals, and grow personally and professionally.
Because of ELU, I was able to learn more about our community and get connected. Before I joined United Way, I participated in an event called, “It’s a Work of Heart,” at the Olivet Boys and Girls Club at Pendora Park. It was such a great opportunity; it made me feel like I was making a difference, and I enjoyed meeting other people my age.
Meeting individuals who share my passion for community is one of my favorite aspects of ELU. The fact there is such a large membership is a great way to meet a diverse group of people. ELU members have the opportunity to connect with people who are from different backgrounds, cultures, and careers. There are ELU members who are new to the workforce, while others are quickly climbing the corporate ladder. Some ELU members are married with children and others are single with fur babies. This broad membership base allows members to meet many people who have a desire to make themselves and our community better.
ELU also offers the opportunity to grow, both personally and professionally, through exclusive development opportunities. Our “Mix and Mingle Like a Boss” event facilitated by Mike Iorio of Dale Carnegie Training has been well-received by members.
Our new “Leading the Way” series also received positive reviews. The inaugural event featured community leaders George Zeppos, Sue Perrotty and Joni Naugle sharing their professional experiences, as well as guiding thoughts to members as the next generation of leaders. This event was held at Willoughby’s on Park, and ELU members had the chance to talk and interact with the speakers. The next “Leading the Way” session will be held in October.
One of our members’ favorite aspect of belonging to the group is the opportunity to participate in volunteer opportunities designed especially for ELU. I have heard, countless times, how they enjoy the simplicity of volunteering through ELU. They simply have to say they want to attend and then show up. The ELU staff does the rest of the work.
Since ELU’s inception in 2015, we have offered 111 volunteer opportunities to benefit a wide variety of local organizations. ELU members have partnered with Olivet Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Opportunity House, Safe Berks, Berks Encore’s Meals on Wheels, Helping Harvest, Humane Society and others.
Some of my favorite experiences include hosting a holiday party for nearly 100 kiddos from the Olivet Boys and Girls Club in Oakbrook where the kids enjoyed lunch, met Santa, and picked out a gift to give to a family member. Another favorite is our Mother’s Day event, which provides pampering for the women of Safe Berks, and ELU members prepare and serve dinner to the agency’s residents.
One of the best ways to meet our ELU members is by attending one of our exclusive socials. Our socials typically consist of great food, conversations and a humanitarian aspect. Typically, these events feature a nonprofit sharing information about their work and the needs they may have. A great example of this was our March Madness Social, which included a cornhole tournament and a presentation by Bethany Children’s Home. The members also collected sports-related items to benefit the children of Bethany Children’s Home.
ELU offers something for everyone. Whether someone is looking to meet like-minded people, get involved through volunteering, or grow both personally and professionally, they can find it with ELU.
To learn more about the variety of opportunities offered to ELU members, or to become a member, visit the Emerging Leaders United section of our website. You can also contact me via email at Shirleyc@uwberks.org or by phone, at 610-685-4571.