Seasons of Caring: United Way volunteers gave more than 33,000 hours

Published on July 22, 2019 in

Volunteers at Focus: HOPE packed more than 1,700 boxes of food during National Volunteer Week.

Volunteers make positive change possible. Over the past year, more than 11,000 southeastern Michigan volunteers gave a total of 33,000 hours of their time to better our communities. It all happened thanks to Seasons of Caring – United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s year-round volunteer initiative, sponsored by our partner Penske Corporation.

United Way launched Seasons of Caring in July 2018 to elevate volunteerism across our region. We aimed high for our first year, setting a goal to engage 10,000 volunteers in 25,000 hours of service. And thanks to the thousands of volunteers who took part in meaningful, impactful projects, we exceeded those goals.

“It’s incredible what we can accomplish together, whether it’s an individual giving back with their family on the weekend or a corporation with thousands of employees,” said Kristen Cibulskis, volunteer engagement manager at United Way for Southeastern Michigan.

“Every hour has the potential to change a life.”

For every season, a reason

Through Seasons of Caring, each season we focus on one area where individuals and corporations can have the most impact.

During the summer, volunteers focus on ensuring children have a healthy summer and are prepared to go back to school. In the fall, our volunteer priority shifts to building a stronger safety net and addressing families’ basic needs. During the winter season, volunteers help families become financially stable through opportunities like tax preparation assistance. And in the spring, we put early childhood education front and center.

“It’s really great when we can rally around a specific topic and goals,” Kristen said. “With Seasons of Caring, volunteers get a clearer picture of how their efforts contribute to our overall impact on the community.”

Over the past year, volunteers rolled up their sleeves and pitched in on more than 650 projects. Moe than 6,000 people used our online portal to connect their efforts to the issues and organizations they care about.

At United Way’s Campaign Pep Rally in September, hundreds of volunteers packed literacy, hygiene and interview kits.

Preparing for prosperity

Last fall, as green leaves gave way to blazing fall tones, volunteers worked hard to help families in need.

In September, we kicked off our 2018-19 Community Giving Campaign with an exciting pep rally-style event. More than 300 volunteers across multiple sites assembled 3,000 job interview, literacy and hygiene kits.

During the winter months, we set our sights on preparing families for a prosperous year. We worked with our partner organizations Accounting Aid Society and Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency to recruit volunteer tax preparers.

Tax returns are often the largest check a family will receive all year and these volunteers perform a key role, helping families keep more of what they earn.

As part of our Seasons of Caring initiative, volunteers in the spring season helped with early childhood education projects.

Education for the future

In spring and summer, we focused our volunteer efforts on supporting parents and caregivers so that they can help their children learn, grow and succeed in school.

During National Volunteer Week, more than 400 volunteers assisted with projects at multiple sites. At the end of the week, 103 volunteers gathered at Focus: HOPE for our community project where they helped build bookshare boxes and literacy kits for youth.

In June, we hosted our second annual Volunteer United event. More than 500 corporate, community and United Way volunteers beautified outdoor spaces, sorted and packed food, and assisted with early learning classes.

Recently, dozens of volunteers helped with beautification projects at several Meet Up and Eat Up sites. Employees from Deloitte and GM revitalized Gateway Gardens. At this community garden, children can have lunch and learn more about health and wellness.

Volunteers from Deloitte help beautify Gateway Garden as part of United Way’s summer Seasons of Caring initiative.

Powering what’s possible

Our corporate partners and their giving employees make United Way’s commitment to volunteerism possible.

Employees from partners like Quicken Loans with The Network and FCA with its career development series commit their time and expertise year after year to help prepare students for success.

And none of this could happen without the support of our partner Penske Corporation. They’ve committed $500,000 to strengthen volunteerism through Seasons of Caring. Funds from the Penske sponsorship will be used to offset costs associated with organizing and executing high-quality volunteer events that deliver impact in local communities.

To learn more about how you can contribute and make volunteering a year-round tradition, visit our volunteer portal.