Meet Sarah Glover, Community Investment Specialist for Helping People Help Themselves at United Way of Greater Greensboro. Sarah is responsible for managing the investment process and community initiatives for everything dealing with hand ups–those things that help people overcome barriers in their lives. When she’s not evaluating programs and keeping up with the latest trends in self-sufficiency and financial stability , she’s busy working with the community to improve information and referral systems and enhance local workforce development. Sarah also is our point person for NC 2-1-1 for Greater Greater Greensboro and has spearheaded our online reporting system for our community partners. What a busy lady, eh?!
Take a minute to peek behind the scenes of United Way and get introduced to one of the staff members that puts your dollars to work!
When did you start working at United Way?
Sarah: I started here in July 2009. Before that I worked briefly as a freelance consultant doing research, writing, and group facilitation. I also worked for ten years at the Center for Creative Leadership where I did research on global leadership and innovation.
Why did you decided to go into the field of self-sufficiency and financial stability work?
Sarah: I’ve always been drawn to work that empowers people in someway. I know too many people (including myself at times) who either live paycheck to paycheck or don’t have a paycheck.
Why is the financial stability and self-sufficiency work that United Way and our partners do critical for Greensboro to thrive?
Sarah: Before you can be concerned with your own empowerment and psychological development, you need things like safety, shelter, and food. To continually meet those basic needs for yourself and your family, you need some financial stability. Stability gives you the peace of mind to be able to turn your thinking to bigger things like improving yourself or increasing opportunities for your family. When individuals and families aren’t safe, financially stable, and self-sufficient, it erodes not only their own health and well-being, but the community’s as well. Think about the stress of the people who need help, but also the stress on the helpers, especially in times where there is unprecedented demand and limited support. The effects of financial stability on people can be seen beyond food pantry shelves; it affects things like crime, domestic violence, and access to healthcare and elder care. By helping people get or keep housing, employment, basic health, child or elder care, and transportation, we save taxpayers money from needing to use public benefits and also add revenue from continued economic activity. When I talk to people, I often hear things like, “Well we’re not getting any help out of Washington (DC).” We have to do a lot of the work for ourselves. We need people trying to pitch in locally, instead of just waiting for big solutions from on high. I love that my work at United Way has a local impact.
What is it about United Way that you’ve learned since you’ve joined the staff?
Sarah: To be honest, before I started working here I really didn’t know a lot about United Way except for what I learned from campaign rallies at my workplace. I really thought of United Way as “rah-rah” fundraising. What I know now is that there’s much more. Since United Way isn’t the direct service provider to clients, we have the ability to lift our eyes to the horizon and notice things that others may not—patterns, trends, gaps, and the bigger picture of the system. It’s not the old community chest; we’re not raising money for agencies because they can’t do it for themselves–they can. We are making programs and the community stronger. We do more than write checks. We support programs with technical assistance, measure and evaluate community conditions, and bring people together to form community collaborations.
What I love about United Way is that it values learning, sharing ideas, collaborations, and solving problems. At first I was really surprised how willing other United Ways were to share their successes, ideas, and suggestions. The more I learn about what United Ways across the country are doing, the more I am impressed about being part of a larger system that is really committed to improving our communities. Also, I’m really proud of the dedication, diligence, and authenticity of our volunteers who serve on our committees.
What are everyday ways that people can take action to improve financial stability and self-sufficiency of our community?
Sarah: First of all, slow down and pay attention. Sometimes we’re all just too busy. People are falling apart because they don’t have time to sleep, think clearly, and take care of themselves. You have to find a certain clarity in order to find the best way to help. You may be able to help people when you’re frazzled, but it will probably be a band-aid. You can’t nurture, create changes in habits or systems, or pay attention to each other enough when you’re over-stressed. Slow down enough to pay attention to how your neighbors, family, and friends are doing and what they need. Look for success stories of people overcoming struggles and then notice what helped them to succeed. Notice what’s working well in our community. When you do that, you may feel some small calling to action and you’ll know what to do.
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