May 2, 2019

Retirees use skills and expertise to make an impact through Alumni United 

Alumni United group poses for a photo.

A new United Way for Southeastern Michigan affinity group is putting decades of skills and expertise to work. 

Alumni United is a group for individuals who are retired or soon to retire, and who recognize the important role volunteerism and philanthropy play in strengthening our community. Members can engage with peers and continue to make a difference with United Way for Southeastern Michigan.

“It’s a way to meet other retirees, stay up to date with what’s going on in the community and make an impact through volunteerism,” said Debbie Murphy, donor relations director at United Way.  

“Alumni United gives retirees an opportunity to use the skills they’ve amassed in the workforce to help others.”

A key part of the strategy is specialized volunteer opportunities, so it was fitting that the first official Alumni United event took place during National Volunteer Week. The group gathered at Gleaners Detroit to help pack food boxes for those in need. 

If you’re retired or nearing retirement, we’d love for you to join us.

Two people review list.

Brad Simmons and Deborah Morrissett examine a list of items to pull during an Alumni United volunteer project at Gleaners in Detroit.

Connect, engage and volunteer 

“We’re assembling things, we’re communicating and we’re strategizing,” said Paul Signorello, head of HR systems technology at FCA. He and others spent the day pulling food from storage racks and stacking it on a pallet jack. 

Paul is on United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s Campaign Cabinet. As part of that work, he focused on retirees. Many people who engage with United Way while employed with our corporate partners lose that connection when they leave the workforce. Through Alumni United, they can easily continue to give back alongside United Way. 

“We want to give them a platform where they can connect with other people in the community who are retired and give them the opportunity to use the skills they grew over 30 years with a company,” he said. 

“We came up with this idea of Alumni United, a platform to connect, to engage and to volunteer.” 

The official Alumni United kickoff comes in June. Deloitte, DTE, FCA and Ford are among the organizations already working with the group. Click here if you’d like to attend the campaign kickoff event on June 11.

“We’re really excited about the potential,” said Brad Simmons, director of community outreach at Ford Motor Co.  

“There are a lot of younger people retiring today that are very active, able, interested and willing to serve.” 

Brad is also on our Campaign Cabinet and helped design Alumni United. 

“It’s one of those unique opportunities to feel like you’re really making a difference in something that can be lasting and beneficial to the overall community,” he said. 

Paul Signorello stacks boxes during an Alumni United volunteer project at Gleaners.

Fulfilling and fun 

DTE Energy retiree George Gomez said the project at Gleaners was “terrific.” 

The potential of Alumni United excites him. 

“The whole thing for me is about how the company respects and acknowledges all the time and energy it gave me over the years,” he said. 

“I can continue to use that. I’m still valuable. I so appreciate that (DTE) has been a leader in the community. They always gave me a chance at doing something greater than myself.” 

Angela Maiuri, another DTE retiree, was also on hand. 

“I know Gleaners is a very worthwhile organization and I wanted to be able to help,” she said. 

“It’s very fulfilling because I know I am helping an organization – or even just one family – have dinner that they wouldn’t have if it weren’t for Gleaners.” 

She also sees potential in the group. 

“I think retirees are an untapped group of people,” she said. 

“People are retiring earlier. It’s not the old concept of you’re going to live in a retirement home or go to Florida. People want to do things in their community because that’s still important in this day and age, to be involved and to help.” 

Angela was happy to be working alongside her peers. 

“The best part is the camaraderie, the teamwork – plus you know you’re doing something good,” she said. 

Paul summed up the day and ultimately the goal of the group. 

“It just helps make a more fulfilled and rich life. Work is great, and this is beyond work and it’s just more fulfilling. 

“It’s fun, too.” 

Editor’s note: We’d love to be a part of the next chapter of your life. If you’re retired or about to retire, please click here to sign up for Alumni United.