CEO for a Day

Jeff Brower, Intel

I recently had the unique and amazing experience of being a “CEO for a Day.”  What made it special was not that I was a CEO making any major decisions or delegating more work to the hard-working staff at United Way California Capital Region in Sacramento, but to have a first-hand look at the importance of community involvement in local charities and how they impact both the organizations associated with United Way and the peoples’ lives that are positively impacted.  President & CEO Steve Heath gave me a complete overview of United Way’s history, how it operates and the key people involved.  Frankly, I was overwhelmed by the amount of work and effort executed by the staff and local volunteers.  Many charities in the region depend on the generosity of donors and corporate sponsors.  The needs that are served by volunteers, charity staff, and funding would not be possible without an efficient and organized “united” fundraising and management arm that the United Way provides.

We visited three organizations during my “CEO for a day” stint.  Leading off was a tour of the Women’s Empowerment facility which recently relocated to 1590 North A Street in Sacramento.  And “WOW” was my reaction.  Women’s Empowerment is an organization I was fairly familiar with as many volunteers from the company I work for regularly serve and help equip women participants with work skills, emotional needs, safety, and food and clothing assistance. Watching them being able to expand to a larger facility with a better environment for the women and children is a huge plus and certainly will help make greater progress in the mission of the facility.

In the afternoon, we made a trip across town to the Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento.  I found the place to be a very positive and comfortable environment for at-risk kids who need a safe place to be while they escape unsafe home environments and have nowhere else to go.  We were given the opportunity to sit down and talk directly with a few older teenagers who were well-spoken, easy to talk to and had a very positive outlook on life and goals to improve themselves for the next stage of their lives.  I was impressed that despite the challenges and problems some of these kids are facing that they are able to get the help they need before it is too late. Well-done!  We look forward to hearing about them graduating from college.

After that we took a drive to Hillsdale School. This school was much different than the kind of school I went to as a kid, but it was clear that many lived in single-parent homes and are now getting some of the help they needed with homework and after-school programs. These program are very helpful when one or two parents are working long hours to make ends meet and having a positive environment to learn and be safe is even more important today.  During the visit, I also got a chance to read a couple short children’s books and really enjoyed the friendly kids and their strong enthusiasm for learning (and their visitors from United Way).

Understanding that United Way is much more than an organization that collects donations.  It is a key piece to our community and helps to provide support and services through many designated charities.  I also believe that we truly have an obligation to reach out and find ways we can help our local community. Whether it is giving a financial contribution, volunteering time, or directing someone in need to the right place for help, we can all make a difference and make a long-lasting impact to people’s lives.

Jeff Brower is a Sr. Applications Engineer in the NVM Solutions Group at Intel. He was the bidding winner of the “CEO for a Day” during Intel’s giving campaign.