Getting Involved at Every Stage | United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, our supporters who give, advocate and volunteer have a direct impact on the local community, helping us to improve education, income and health—the building blocks of opportunity—for millions of North Texans. We couldn’t do this important work without them.

For some, it can be easy to think of philanthropy as something that becomes important later in life, maybe when your career, family and finances are well established. But at an event this week, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas philanthropists of all stages shared their experiences with giving back to the community and proved that dedicating yourself to a cause can be a transformative experience at any life stage.

The Most Generous Next Generation Event sponsored by PwC—was hosted by United Way Women of Tocqueville, a United Way of Metropolitan Dallas giving society—welcomed United Way Giving Society members and prospective members of all ages, backgrounds and life stages. The goal was to empower, encourage and prepare attendees to achieve their goals, including their desire to impact the community and world for the better.

The event included welcome remarks by Event Co-Chair, Michelle Horton, Principal with PwC, and the event sponsor. Introduction and opening remarks by Jennifer Sampson, McDermott-Templeton President and CEO, was followed by a panel discussion led by Anne Chow, CEO of AT&T Business and United Way’s Annual Campaign Chair. The panelists included women at every stage of philanthropy with United Way:

  • Josie Gooch, Co-Founder of Teens United, and her mother, Cecily Gooch, former United Way Board member and past Women of Tocqueville Chair
  • Roman Berhe, Project Leader at Boston Consulting Group and a March Tocqueville Fellow
  • Mary Gano, Supply Chain Diversity-Program Manager at Vistra Corp. and a United Way Builders Society member
  • Carol March, Co-Chair of the Women of Tocqueville Fund for Women and Children and Co-Founder, March Tocqueville Fellows Initiative

Chow began by sharing her own lifelong journey with philanthropy, from her time in college to her work with the AT&T Foundation and as a board member for a variety of non-profits, including the Asian American Justice Center, Girl Scouts of America, Dallas Mavericks and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.

Chow said her career helped make her valuable to these non-profits. “I realized that the business background that I had and the experiences that I had had up until that point were incredibly useful for these nonprofits. Whether it was the financial acumen that I had, my ability to fundraise and develop, being able to communicate, [my experience] around branding and marketing—the skills that I had developed from having a career were invaluable in the nonprofit environment.”

Chow emphasized that philanthropists can help their community at every life stage—and, as her experience proves, it’s not all about donating money. “Early in my career, I thought it was all about the money—and that’s when you’re trying to figure out how to buy your first place, how to get settled and become financially independent and secure. But it’s also about more: your time, your talents and your treasure. It’s all of those things you can commit in terms of advancing your passions, of being good and doing good.”

Next, Chow opened up the panel discussion and asked each woman to share her experiences with philanthropy and her plans for the future:

Q: How and when did you get involved with philanthropy? Why is it important to you?

Josie Gooch: As a kid, my mom has just always been a really big inspiration to me by her involvement in United Way, and I thought, you’re never too young to get involved. So my sister and I, along with the Aikman sisters and Hilton Sampson, got together and started Teens United. We knew we could jump start this organization and have an impact. My favorite drive we did was when the tornadoes hit. We met and allocated some supplies to give to the people who were impacted, and it was an awesome experience that I’ll remember forever.

Cecily Gooch: I grew up with philanthropy as a core pillar in my family. When I moved to Dallas, I was embraced by United Way because of the TXU and Vistra family of companies being such a great supporter of United Way. I got involved in Women of Tocqueville, where the more you give, the more you get in return. That really proved true with my involvement in United Way. Some of my very best friends in the world come from the Women of Tocqueville.

Roman Berhe: I’m the daughter of immigrants; my parents are from Ethiopia. It wasn’t until I went back home for the first time in middle school that I thought how blessed I was, coming from a place where I could have everything at my disposal. It was then that I realized the importance of giving back. So I got involved with United Way a couple years ago with Boston Consulting Group and I’ve been involved ever since. When the opportunity came to be a March Tocqueville Fellow, I couldn’t say no. I wanted to learn more about philanthropy, and I thought this was the perfect way to do so.

I’m a consultant my day job. I present data in a way to tell a story. Thinking about United Way and the Social Innovation Accelerator, [it’s an opportunity to] help different nonprofit organizations get funding in order to have better impact throughout the community. So I can take what I do in my day job and pair it very well with my strengths and my passions with social impact to make a difference. There’s so much I can do within the community with the skills that I have learned in the business world and helping nonprofits run like a business.

Mary Gano: I got involved with United Way several years ago through donating and through volunteering. As Cecily stated, TXU Energy and Vistra are strong supporters of United Way, so it’s very easy to have volunteer opportunities. And I participated in pretty much all of them.

I started supporting at the Builders Society level in 2013. I wanted to find an organization that I could actually go and volunteer on my birthday, because I wanted to give back and not have it be all about me. I was put in contact with the Literacy Instruction for Texas, or LIFT, an organization that helps individuals who don’t know how to read. After doing that, I continued to volunteer. Fast forward to 2017, and I was asked to be a board member. I found my passion there. I went from being a volunteer to now a board member.

It’s very fulfilling. The main thing that keeps me going is knowing I’m making an impact in someone’s life. It may be a person that I may never meet, but I know that the decisions that I’m making from a board level are helping other individuals. And I’ve benefited from a program before, so I feel that I owe other people and I should give back if I’m in that position to give back. And that’s what I would say for everyone: Find what that passion is, and then give back in that regard, regardless of how time consuming it may be.

Carol March: My husband, Kevin, and I have been involved with United Way for many years, starting out with donating through a corporate campaign when we worked for Texas Instruments. And I joined a grants panel early on, and that really started my deep dive into being involved with United Way and understanding what they really bring to our community. Fast forward to today, we’re involved with the Women of Tocqueville Fund and March Tocqueville Fellows, and it’s been a great journey.

Q: What are you doing to drive impact on a larger scale?

Josie Gooch: I think social media is key in my generation. I think that when driving these digital giving campaigns through Instagram or Twitter, or any form of social media, the kids are going to react to it. I think that needs to be a huge emphasis in our next giving campaign.

Cecily Gooch: [As a mom], mainly it’s modeling, bringing them along to different activities that I would be in, many with United Way. So they saw me doing it and they saw the impact. That’s the most powerful part of the good that we were doing. I can remember going to schools and giving out lunches, and [my children] Josie and Ceci and my 10-year-old Vince would be doing fun activities with other kids their own age, but then also helping give lunches away. And on the way home, we would talk about how that wasn’t just a summer camp—there was so much more to it.

Berhe: I think we need to think bigger and more creatively in order to drive systemic change. The social issues that we face today in the community are largely driven by the system that we have in place, so we need to figure out how to dismantle the injustices in the system, as well as solve for the root causes instead of just treating for the effect. And there are strengths in numbers; Josie, what you said with social media definitely resonates: We need to bring our friends along as well as sending personalized messages. So for me, if I send one-on-one messages to people like, ‘Hey, this is something that I’m going to go do or spend my money on’, that’s when you start seeing more people get involved.

Gano: I am a member of the Leadership Dallas 21 class, and the speakers that are coming in are bringing light to some of the issues and the inequities in our community. And there were two that really resonated with me: early childhood education and economic mobility. In those two areas, I want to make sure on a bigger scale that I go and do my research and get involved that way, whether through contributions from a monetary standpoint, volunteering or becoming a member of the board in that organization.

March: In the case of March Tocqueville fellows, it is something new that United Way is embarking on. It’s really important to us to think about the long term. For my husband and I, it seemed really important to create a pipeline of givers and to teach all generations about giving and how important it is. Now it’s clear from talking to our panelists so far that the young people already have this in their blood. So in a way it’s going to be easy, but we just want to really encourage that. Our vision is creating the long-term sustainability of United Way and the programs and to have the funding there for years.

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This article was published on: Mar 25, 2021