United Way’s Emerging Leaders United (ELU) members have a tradition of partnering with Safe Berks every May to provide special Mother’s Day pampering to the agency’s residents. ELU members, a group of individuals ages 21-45, are interested in volunteering, community involvement and personal development. In a typical year, ELU members organize an after-work event that includes bringing together local hair stylists and manicurists to pamper the women residing at Safe Berks, along with providing a prepared dinner and activities for their children.
For Heather Ayala, an ELU member from UGI Energy Services, the event has special meaning. “I enjoy these events because I get the chance to give back to an organization that helped me in my time of need. I want these women to know they deserve love, dignity and respect. Pampering them and showing we care, decrease their worries a little bit for a day. We knew it was important for us to continue our efforts this year, despite some of the challenges created by the COVID crisis.” ELU members used creativity to developing a plan which would be different and still special for the women at Safe Berks. United Way connected
ELU members and Safe Berks with Boscov’s to furnish a few of the agency’s wish list items. In addition, several members are purchasing and preparing food items to treat the women to an Italian-themed meal. Since social distancing prohibited ELU members to make and serve the dinner on-site, members volunteered to provide different portions of the meal and will deliver it to Safe Berks on May 19.
“ELU members are incredibly committed to helping others and making a difference; last year they volunteered for 38 different activities. Their dedication has not wavered during the health crisis,” said Tammy White, President, United Way of Berks County. “We are grateful for their continued dedication to connect and provide hope during this difficult time.”
During recent weeks, ELU members also participated in some virtual volunteer activities, including creating notes of encouragement for seniors at Spruce Manor and the residents of Safe Berks, as well as checking in with residents of The Highlands of Wyomissing with phone calls. They are also donating blood at Miller Keystone.
“Volunteering is more important than ever,” said Rendy Ortiz, ELU Chairperson and employee at Alcon. “While COVID has changed many things, it hasn’t changed the importance of connecting with and helping each other.”