Bill Newburn’s long wait is finally over.
Another season kickoff is here.
No, not football. It’s United Way season.
“I recruit everybody,” said Newburn, a wealth advisor with Regions’ Private Wealth Management team in Tyler, Texas, of his request to associates to help with the United Way of Smith County Day of Caring. “Everyone is willing to serve, we get incredible support.”
The ability to rely on that support from Newburn, his teammates and other companies who help with the Day of Caring is a gamechanger for the United Way affiliate and the 26 partner agencies it serves.
“Bill is invaluable,” said Lisa Gardner, director of Community Impact with United Way of Smith County. “He is so encouraging in engaging his colleagues to volunteer.”
The annual service project has been a labor of love for Newburn for several years. He also supports United Way throughout the year as the organization’s board treasurer.
“We’ve painted before, we’ve packed food for kids in need, whatever we can do to help,” said Newburn of previous projects the Tyler group has tackled. “This year, the United Way itself needed some landscape work. It was quite a project but very rewarding when we completed it.”
“The work the Regions team did spreading mulch and rock in our flowerbeds and power washing the sidewalks and driveways made our landscaping look brand new,” said Gardner.
Fellow Regions Private Wealth Management associate Shelly Gist shares Newburn’s sense of excitement when the United Way of Northeast Arkansas’ Day of Caring occurs each year in Jonesboro.
“I can’t recall missing a Day of Caring in the last 10 years,” said Gist, a Trust support administrator. “It may actually be closer to 15.”
Gist has done everything from clearing weeds and planting trees at local parks and youth centers to bathing and walking dogs at the Northeast Arkansas Humane Society.
“One of my most rewarding volunteer experiences was repainting and cleaning a family crisis center,” she said.
In September, Gist and her teammates grabbed their paintbrushes once again, this time sprucing up a 40-foot storage trailer for a nonprofit educational radio station.
While Gist finds satisfaction in completing each unique project, the day represents much more to her.
“Participating in the Day of Caring is a way for us to live out the Regions values in our communities,” she said. “Volunteering with organizations who provide resources when people need them most is how we put people first outside of work. It’s how we reach higher for ourselves by learning about the challenges of others. It’s how we can enjoy life by connecting with our community.”
Newburn appreciates the internal connections the day fosters too.
“You feel really good afterwards and you get closer as a team,” he said. “I’m so thankful to work for a company that encourages us to make a difference in our community.”
Following this year’s Day of Caring in June, Newburn put away the yard tools and quickly moved on to his next project: being part of Regions’ United Way East Texas associate giving campaign team. Each year, the group brings in United Way guest speakers to raise awareness about the work nonprofit partners do and how their donations make a difference.
“The agencies we support focus on four key areas: education, financial stability, health and wellness, and crisis-intervention programs,” he explained. “Sometimes, it is easy to think, ‘I’m just one person, there’s not much I can do.’ However, whether you give money or your time, you can make a tremendous impact on your community.”
Newburn and his teammates do more than just educate associates during the campaign.
“Our goal is to make the United Way campaign kickoff fun,” he added.
This year, that excitement reached a higher pitch than ever with bragging rights on the line in addition to the usual donation perks of pizza lunches and jeans days.
“This was the first year we’ve made it a competition between our Smith and Gregg County teams,” Newburn said. “I’ve learned our associates can be very competitive.”
The increase in that competitive spirit aligns with a heightened delivery of services United Way and its nonprofit partners are providing to their neighbors.
“There are so many needs right now, there are many people struggling,” said Newburn. “But our community continues to meet those needs. I love how generous our community is.”
He’s also grateful for the generosity of his Regions teammates.
“There’s a lot of people who made our campaign successful, Newburn said of this year’s record-breaking donation total. “Everyone is so giving.”
Just like Newburn and Gist.
Both say they’ve gained far more than they’ve contributed over the years through their United Way service.
“Our United Way staff works so hard to make the lives of others better, I’m proud to be associated with them,” Newburn added. “It’s heartwarming to see and rewarding to give back.”
“I love the sense of community the United Way Day of Caring creates,” Gist added. “When things need to get done and resources are scarce, we have the kind of community that comes together to help solve problems and make our home an even better place to live. It fills me with a sense of hope and pride.”