Employee gives back, hopes to inspire United Way participation

Loretta Young, an administrative assistant at the School of Communication, finds purpose in her role as a United Way ambassador, an activity she has undertaken for the past seven years.
Employee gives back, hopes to inspire United Way participation
Photo: Joshua Prezant/University of Miami

Walk into the main reception area of the School of Communication and you’ll be greeted by Loretta Young, an administrative assistant who, shortly after starting her role in 2014, became a United Way ambassador. Among her responsibilities at the school, she interacts with visitors, students, and faculty and staff members, and builds relationships with many of the individuals who pass through the department.

Those connections, along with Young’s ability to confidently approach others and ask for their support, have been a winning combination helping her to achieve success while serving as a United Way ambassador. “I’ve found that it’s important to be approachable and proactive when it comes to fundraising and United Way in general,” she said.

An empathetic person, Young has learned to think of those who are struggling, whether it’s someone who is seeking employment, trying to keep the lights on, or experiencing food insecurity. Recently, she has been juggling the demands that come with supporting and caring for an elderly parent. “We often don’t always think about those challenges until we experience them,” she noted.

“Being involved in the United Way exposes you to what people are going through,” Young pointed out. “It opens your eyes to what is going on in the world, and it keeps you focused. I’ve learned a lot about what needs to be done and that we can take things for granted.” 

Young’s philosophy—whatever you can do to help in any way possible is always good—drives her work ethic and keeps her motivated as an ambassador. Through her involvement in United Way, Young hopes to show the younger generation the impact of giving from the heart. “We don't know who needs the help. You can walk by someone and not know they’re in need,” she said.

“For me, giving back is something I do that is second nature,” explained Young, who dabbled with volunteering when she lived in New York. It wasn’t until she began working with United Way Miami as a volunteer ambassador at the School of Communication that she found an organization that aligns with her philanthropic goals and priorities. 

“United Way deals with everyday life and what people go through. It deals with what people need and it’s real,” she emphasized. “They’re building homes, providing care, cleaning up neighborhoods, and feeding people.” 

When asked about her fundraising strategy over the past seven years, she admits that “anything that has to do with food works. That usually gets everyone involved.” An avid baker, she has hosted bake sales filled with homemade cakes and cookies—crowd pleasers that lure passersby.

This year, Young will employ her winning strategy and incentivize her colleagues to get involved by offering participants a reward—you guessed it, food. Among her fundraising ideas, she hopes to launch a friendly competition between departments where the one with the most participants may be eligible for a gift, most likely a food-related treat.

Learn more about the United Way. Give today.