October 4, 2018

Ambitious goals announced as Community Giving Campaign kicks off

At night, Makeba Bacon works the late shift at an auto plant.
But by day, she changes lives.

The longtime volunteer, who has donated countless hours to her community through United Way for Southeastern Michigan, helped us kickoff our 2018-19 Community Giving Campaign by highlighting the importance of volunteerism in her life.

“I love volunteering and being part of something bigger than me,” she said. “Together, we can make a difference in the world around us.”

During a vivacious pep rally that kicked off our campaign on Sept. 28, Makeba also helped us announce our ambitious goals for the year: 25,000 volunteer hours and $46 million raised.

Dr. Driver and band

Dr. Driver poses with the band from Martin Luther King Jr. High School.

An energetic event

In United Way’s office, colorful pep rally-inspired signs, banners, pennants and balloons adorned the walls at our offices during the event. A drumline and brass ensemble from Martin Luther King Jr. High School was even on hand to add to the excitement.

“I love the energy,” said Ford Motor Company’s Joe Hinrichs, chair of our campaign cabinet for 2018-20.

He encouraged volunteers to get involved.

“The hours that are committed are just as important (as financial donations), and we want to celebrate that,” he said.

At our campaign kickoff, the power was in the hands of hundreds of volunteers. At United Way’s Detroit office, Lakeshore Family YMCA in St. Clair Shores and HAVEN in Pontiac, volunteers took part in a simultaneous kit packing project to mark the beginning of the campaign.

United Way Board Chairman Mark Petroff, president and CEO of OneMagnify, was impressed with the volunteer efforts.

“I’m super excited about the opportunity to volunteer and the fact that we have 300 people dedicating time to kick off our volunteer year,” he said.

“Beyond just the giving, your time is so important to us.”

Mark Petroff and Joe Hinrichs work together to pack a literacy kit,.

Mark Petroff and Joe Hinrichs work together to pack a literacy kit, one of thousands assembled on the day.

Making a difference

A dedication to volunteerism all begins with just one impactful project.

Makeba began her journey as a volunteer in 2004, when she helped out at her son’s elementary school. Her first United Way-related project was the Martin Luther King Jr. day of service at her alma mater, Osborn High School. Volunteers helped rehabilitate the school.

To this day, it remains her favorite volunteer event.

“This project gave me a connection and sense of pride to give back to the students that walked the halls of the same school as me over 20 years ago,” Makeba said.

“I love anything that involves teens because this is our last chance to reach them before adulthood. I’m passionate about the work I do with them.”

An auto worker on the night shift, Makeba is also a part-time substitute teacher. She says volunteering is a way of life.

“As members of society, it is our responsibility to help with the growth and prosperity of the community we live in,” she said.

Volunteers pack hygiene kits

Volunteers pack hygiene kits as part of our 2018-19 Campaign Kickoff.

Reaching goals

“I often say not everyone has funds to give, but most everyone can give time,” said United Way for Southeastern Michigan President and CEO Dr. Darienne Driver. “There’s just so much we can do together, and the power is truly in our hands.”

It’s passionate people like Makeba who will help us reach the 25,000 volunteer hours goal by the end of our campaign. We’ve already seen results — volunteers gave 600 hours and completed a total of 4,000 kits on Friday.

If you’d like to get involved or learn more about our goals, visit UnitedWaySEM.org/25Khours.