He’s donated for 33 years. And he’s seen the impact his gifts and others have made for families during their times of greatest need.
So, when Scott Hartwig was asked by United Way of Greater St. Louis to serve as its 2023 annual community campaign co-chair, the answer was an immediate “yes.”
We caught up with Hartwig to learn more about the why behind the yes.
“Regions’ mission of making life better is very similar to United Way’s mission of helping people live their best possible lives,” said the Regions Commercial Banking leader and market executive for Greater St. Louis. “It just fits who we are and our culture at the bank.”
You’ve shared how United Way is especially personal for you and your family. Can you please share more with our readers?
In 1997, our son, Zach, was born with a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. His diagnosis required us to make significant family changes with my wife leaving her accounting career to focus her full attention on taking care of our two sons. That resulted in us going from two salaries to one plus the increased health care expense due to his condition.
At just 13 weeks old, Zach had his first open heart surgery, followed by a second at 13 months old. As time passed, we realized Zach’s condition was declining with him facing added challenges beyond his heart condition. When he was three, we sought out doctors specializing in Zach’s condition and found one at Boston Children’s Hospital. During the next 16 years, we regularly traveled to Boston as Zach had two more open-heart surgeries and 20-plus heart catheterizations. I share this because along his journey, God placed many families and organizations in our path to help us and for us to help them.
Community agencies that help with medical bills and consulting, transportation expenses and logistics, counseling and so much more make a huge difference in the lives of both the patients and their families. This support helps people get through the critical times and get back on track. I saw many miracles with children being healed, as well as the heartbreak experienced by families of those who weren’t. United Way agencies were there to support families who didn’t have the financial means and family support to make it through those challenging times.
What’s something new you’ve learned about United Way through this experience?
I knew United Way did an excellent job collecting and disbursing funds to community partners, but I didn’t realize the significant role U.W. serves in connecting these community partners to clients. For example, a person experiencing homelessness needs immediate help with shelter. In addition to providing that, United Way encourages its community partners to discover the root cause of why someone is experiencing homelessness and then creates a network to help resolve the root cause. Without that focus, the issue becomes a repetitive cycle.
At Regions, we also focus on collaboration and encourage our community partners to collaborate. That’s the key aspect of our annual convening session with nonprofits where we award a grant for a unique and unexpected community collaboration. I learned the approach Regions and United Way enlist is similarly aligned and it was a pleasant surprise to me.
What have you learned about yourself?
Titles and roles really don’t matter. It’s how you helped someone or made them feel during your interaction with them. I am in in awe of the people working each day on the frontlines to help our neighbors in their time of crisis. Those are the real heroes. I couldn’t imagine doing that day in and day out. They have a special gift and talents I know I don’t have.
Everyone has their gifts and roles to serve on a team, and we are all needed to make the maximum impact in our community. No one should be discounted.
What principles or practices from your banking career have you applied to this leadership role?
Banking and serving businesses over the past 30 years has taught me how to relate to people and quickly build relationships. I believe that skill has served me well as I’m introduced to key St. Louis business owners and leaders who support United Way’s efforts.
What’s a final thought you’d like to share?
I would encourage everyone to find some way to get involved or connected. Maybe it’s making a small donation today and volunteering at an agency; maybe it’s just volunteering. But, in either case, get involved and see how United Way impacts lives. It will change your life.
Hartwig and additional St. Louis associates recently volunteered with United Way of Greater St. Louis agency Doorways while the Regions Big Bike was in market. Check out the landscaping work they did.