In this series, What’s Your Why, United Way is calling on its supporters to share what volunteering means for them and why they feel passionately about a cause in our community. This month we feature Becky Doemland, Director of Community Relations and CSR Communications at KAR Auction Services.
Becky Doemland wants to make a real difference in her community. Her journey making positive change in Central Indiana started with a simple monthly payroll contribution to United Way of Central Indiana. Fast forward 26 years — Becky is still giving and has found even more ways to provide to the community and the people she loves so much.
“Over the years, I kept giving and started to learn more about how United Way uses the money to make a real difference in the community,” she says. As time passed, Becky found more and more ways to invest in the community through United Way, from assisting at poverty simulations to helping the homeless. We chatted with Becky to learn more about the ways she invests her time, talent and treasure to address the greatest needs in our community.
Why do you enjoy volunteering through United Way?
I choose to volunteer through United Way for the same reason that I choose to give through United Way: They know the greatest needs in our community, and they channel the resources — in this case, volunteers’ time, talents and knowledge — where they’re needed most. I always feel valued and appreciated when I volunteer through United Way.
Why do you volunteer?
Although I believe that I’m helping the community, the truth is that I get more than I give. Through volunteerism, I’ve met some of the most interesting people and learned from their unique perspectives. I’ve seen the very real problems that people face daily, and I’m reminded that the answer is not as simple as “pulling yourself up by your boot straps.” These are complex issues, and volunteering has deepened my understanding of them.
I remember the first time I volunteered at Second Helpings in their hunger-relief kitchen. I was surprised by the number of volunteer name tags on the wall, and I doubted whether so many volunteers were really needed. Later that day, I looked across the street and saw several people — probably homeless neighbors — sitting and standing outside Horizon House. I started to realize that the need for volunteer help is at least as great as the need for services. That was a powerful thought that stays with me today.
What kind of volunteering do you do?
Over the years, I’ve had very different volunteer experiences with United Way and United Way agencies. I’ve been a Community Outreach volunteer for Red Cross; I’ve volunteered at Second Helpings; I’ve coordinated donation drives for Horizon House and Dayspring Center. I served on United Way’s agency evaluation team for several years and learned a lot! Now, I’m volunteering with poverty simulations.
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Why should people volunteer?
It’s true what they say: You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution. In my opinion, we have enough people lamenting the issues our communities face. We need more people rolling up their sleeves and doing something about it. You can read about problems in our community all day long, but you’ll gain a completely different understanding if you go there and spend time immersed in what’s happening.
You were a part of Leadership United, why did you apply and what did you enjoy most?
When I applied for Leadership United, I was looking for a different kind of development opportunity, something that would help me grow professionally and provide networking opportunities beyond my company and my industry. I wanted to define my role in our community — to be a knowledgeable contributor — and Leadership United was a way for me to understand how and where my help is most needed.
The different speakers taught me how nonprofit agencies work, and important issues that a board member needs to understand. We visited numerous partner agencies, which opened my eyes about the ongoing needs in our community and services that are already being provided. Lastly, the networking opportunity was invaluable, since Leadership United attracts a diverse group of professionals from leading companies and organizations throughout Central Indiana.
Why did you become poverty simulation volunteer?
A few years ago, I participated in a poverty simulation as part of Leadership United. The experience was eye-opening, forcing me to spend a little time in the life of someone with very limited resources, trying to make the best decisions. In the span of a few short hours, my beliefs about the issues facing our community were challenged, and I left with a deeper understanding of real people facing real problems.
It was so powerful that I became a poverty simulation volunteer so United Way can offer the same opportunity and experience to even more people. Poverty simulations force us to look at the world through someone else’s circumstances and make decisions based on factors that are oftentimes very different from our own lives. It’s easy to judge other people’s choices from afar, but very different when you’re experiencing it yourself in a simulated environment. Every single time, I’m awed by the participants’ observations and the all-too-real emotions they’re feeling. You cannot be part of a poverty simulation and leave unaffected.
As Becky Doemland knows well, there is always a need for volunteers! United Way offers a variety of volunteer opportunities throughout our six-county radius. Look here to search for a volunteer activity that aligns with your passions and interests. If you’re interested in learning more about poverty simulations and how you can get involved as a volunteer, complete this form to learn more about volunteer roles and upcoming opportunities. Rather learn more in person? Send an email to Margie Worrell, Immersive Learning Initiatives Manager, and she’ll connect with you soon to share more.
If you are a dedicated United Way volunteer and are interested in being spotlighted for this special feature, fill out the form below and we will be in touch!