Walking the Talk: Stories from the United Way Family

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Do you know how it is when you’ve got a REALLY complicated project? You know, the kind of project that has so many moving parts and so many people involved that it takes months of planning and a whole lot of concentration to pull it off?  For some of us, that might be every morning when we’re trying to get the kids out the door, but for our volunteer center staff it is our bi-annual event, Days of Impact (formerly Day of Caring), that fits the bill. 
Despite the chaotic pre-planning, the best moments for our staff happen when we get to shine a light on some of the volunteers who went “above and beyond”. That’s why we want to tell you about David Smith, the Grounds Director at Givens Estates. David and his team gave a facelift to Avery’s Creek Elementary school’s landscape, including layout design, mulching, planting native shrubs and perennials. All total, David and his team’s volunteer work amounted to a $7,814.22 in-kind donation. Here’s David’s Days of Impact experience in his own words:
I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the United Way’s Days of Impact at Avery’s Creek Elementary School.  I became involved with the project after one of our Financial Operations staff asked me to help with a garden for the school.  Both of my sons went there and I have a daughter currently enrolled at the school, so my motivations were not completely altruistic.  
I am a native plant enthusiast and my wife is a very skilled garden designer so I thought it would be a perfect fit for me to construct a bird, bee, and butterfly garden.  The principal was very enthusiastic about the project and even helped secure a donation for the use of the skid steer, which saved us hours of labor.  Several teachers and other staff came out to thank us as we were working, this was very rewarding and everyone was engaged and supportive of the project.  I placed most of the responsibility of this project on my staff who did an outstanding job picking up the necessary materials, preparing the site, and seeing the project through to completion even though I had to leave before it was done.  This is all made possible by working at a supportive organization that is mission driven and understands community involvement, Givens Estates.
United Way is another mission driven organization that has a tremendous impact on our community.  I am honored to be a small part of the larger goal to help people and improve lives in the Asheville area.  I have volunteered with other organizations and find that I need this larger sense of purpose.  I am greatly rewarded for it through the kind words of those around me and what is achieved through serving.
For anyone that likes to be appreciated for their work and wants a strong sense of accomplishment, I highly recommend volunteering
David Smith and the good folks at Givens Estates are just one example of what it means to LIVE UNITED. There are many of these stories to be told — stories of  individuals and organizations choosing to become the change they want to see in their community.
And so we want to tell these stories! We’ve started a new ‘Walking the Talk’ series here at United Way and we want to hear and share your story!  Using blogs, photos and videos, we hope to inspire and energize our neighbors by telling the stories of the people and organizations that are changing our community for the better.
If you would like to tell your Days of Impact story, or one about  any other United Way experience you’ve had, we invite you to share them with us by sending them to ken.venables@unitedwayabc.org. We’ll be working to get as many of them up on our blog as possible. 






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