United Way selects Southwestern as its volunteer partner of the year
- LUCAS ADAMS
- LUCAS ADAMS
The award is given annually to a United Way campaign partner that has shown the greatest commitment to volunteering in Williamson County.
“Selecting Southwestern for this award was an easy choice,” said Laurie Garza, development director for the United Way of Williamson County.
Garza said Southwestern was selected to receive the award during a conference call with the 18 local nonprofit agencies that are funded by United Way of Williamson County.
“We asked our agencies to nominate a workplace campaign site that in addition to conducting an employee giving campaign, also works to better the community by volunteering with those organizations,” Garza said. “They came up with a laundry list of ways that the students and faculty at Southwestern have make a difference to Williamson County.”
Robert Pinhero, executive director of the Literacy Council of Williamson County, was among the agency leaders who supported Southwestern for the award.
In the past year, Pinhero said students from Southwestern have helped tutor people ages 17 and older who come to the Literacy Council for help with basic literacy, learning English as a Second Language or preparing for the GED. Southwestern students also have helped the agency develop a social media presence.
“A year ago we had no social media program,” Pinhero said.
Rachel Nowlain, a recent Southwestern graduate, has been working full-time at the Literacy Council this year as a VISTA volunteer. “For a small program like ours, having a VISTA volunteer is a huge benefit,” Pinhero said.
Nowlain helped organize the Literacy Council’s first spelling bee fundraiser this year, which raised about $2,000. Pinhero said the council will use the money to purchase equipment for a new office they are setting up in Hutto, and purchase materials that will help students prepare for the new GED exam that will be rolled out in December.
Other United Way agencies that Southwestern students have volunteered at include Meals on Wheels, Hope Alliance and the Annunciation Maternity Home.
LeAnn Powers, chief professional officer for the United Way of Williamson County, said six Southwestern have interned at the organization’s main office in Round Rock the past year, helping with tasks such as social media, marketing and research, and planning the agency’s annual Day of Caring and Day of Service events.
“We have had some amazing interns over the past few years volunteering for us,” Powers said.
The award was presented May 10 at a celebration held to recognize the accomplishments of various United Way campaign partners. Powers said the agency was able to give away more than $500,000 in grants to agencies in Williamson County in the past year. The organization focuses on supporting nonprofits that support education, financial stability, and health and basic needs in Williamson County.