April 17, 2018
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.
“Time, talent and treasure — when you are intentional about how and where you give these three important aspects, it makes you a better person and the community you live in better,” says Thiwasha Harper. We recently caught up with Thiwasha to talk about how she gives of her time, talent and treasure through United Way of Central Indiana.
How did you first get introduced to United Way?
My initial introduction was through my job at Lilly. We have a big United Way campaign every year; I began to give a monthly contribution because I aligned with the idea of giving back. About two years ago, I was asked if I wanted to support Diversity Leadership Circle. Being involved with Diversity Leadership Circle allows me to use my time, talent and treasure together to make the community a better place.
Why did you join Diversity Leadership Circle?
What Diversity Leadership Circle does resonates with me – very strategically bringing together like-minded people of different industries and diverse backgrounds to work on things I’m passionate about, like volunteering at Public Advocates in Community Re-Entry (PACE) or helping run poverty simulations. As a member of the Steering Committee, the connections I have made is an opportunity I would have never had without Diversity Leadership Circle. The group’s focus on financial stability means that I am working to support the Central Indiana community and making it a better place for my daughter.
What has been one of your favorite volunteer experiences?
Volunteering at PACE for Indy Free Tax Prep! I grew up in a community where taxes are huge and refunds can make opportunities for families. I understand the importance, and knowing I was making a difference by helping families get their money back and a full refund was a perfect fit for me.
One of the clients that came in was an 80 plus year old woman, whose niece brought her in. She reminded me of my grandmother and I thought, “How would I want someone to treat my grandmother?” and that is the approach I used. After we reviewed her paperwork, I sat with her and ensured she had water or whatever else during her wait. She had a wonderful, sweet spirit and I instantly knew my time that Saturday morning was well spent!
What was it like being an Indy Free Tax Prep volunteer?
As someone who has never done her own taxes, I was at first intimidated, but the process was simple. I was an intake volunteer, so the training prepared me on how to review the intake form and work with clients to ensure they had all their information ready to make the tax preparer’s job easier. The training gives very specific examples and the check list used for intake made it less intimidating. What I enjoyed is being able to have one-to-one interactions with the clients and give them ease about the process before they worked with the tax preparer. Being greeted with a warm welcome when you’re bringing such sensitive information as your income to strangers helped ease the clients as well.
Why do you continue to volunteer?
It’s a win-win! They win, and I win. It’s not rocket science for me, it really is that simple. It’s a better place because of it.
Even if it is just the smallest portion of time — volunteering doesn’t need to be going to the same place every day, every week, for a year — if you give an hour a month, a weekend a quarter, the fulfillment that you get makes you a better person because when you pour into others, it pours back into you. Find something you are passionate about and get involved! Whether it’s an hour sorting envelopes, painting a room or volunteering as a tax preparer, it’s about each person doing something and that is what is most important.
We thank Thiwasha for choosing to invest her time, talent and treasure in United Way by volunteering with Diversity Leadership Circle and Indy Free Tax Prep. With dedicated volunteers like her, more Central Indiana families are increasing their financial stability every year. By uniting to fight for the education, financial stability, health and basic needs of every person in our community, we all win.
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!