United Way Greater Victoria’s ‘loaned’ employees help build community

Saanich resident champions 16-week program that allowed her to take paid leave from work for charitable organization

Erin Coverdale

Erin Coverdale’s contributions with United Way started out small. She was 18 when she began working with HP Advanced Solutions in Saanich, fresh out of Spectrum Community School, and she signed up to donate every two weeks through the United Way salary deduction program.

Five years later, the 23-year-old Saanich resident is now a leadership donor and volunteer at United Way Greater Victoria, as well as the chair for HP Advance Solution’s 10-person United Way employee campaign committee.

“A lot of people have heard of United Way but don’t understand how it works,” says Coverdale,  also a volunteer on the UnitedNOW Council.

It wasn’t until Coverdale worked for United Way as a loaned representative (meaning she was working with United Way but still paid by her employer) in 2013 that she began to understand the extent of United Way’s reach in Greater Victoria.

“Until then, I hadn’t realized how many types of social issues are in our community, and the number of struggles people are dealing with here in Victoria,” Coverdale says.

“It makes you grateful and it motivates me to help more. It’s also comforting to see the support that is there for people, especially when you learn the many tragedies people are dealing with, things you wouldn’t have seen.”

She says the four-month experience as a loaned representative away from her communications job was a busy one.

“One of the things I did was to help dispel any misunderstandings and lack of knowledge, and to touch base with where donations are going and how they impact the community,” she says.

It meant organizing a lot of people and staying on top of changing situations, particularly event details.

“It can be stressful, but it’s very rewarding and it’s helped me in my role (at HP), especially the presentations. You really learn to get messages out and to motivate.”

The United Way Loaned Representative program is a 16-week program during which the candidate works on some of the 400 United Way workplace campaigns across the region. By participating, companies benefit from public recognition as a committed donor and community supporter.

The employee works under the supervision of a professional United Way fundraiser to develop skills including sales, customer service, teamwork, interpersonal, public speaking and leadership.

For more information visit uwgv.ca.

reporter@saanichnews.com