Observations of a first year Loaned Executive

Drew Haydu, 2010-2011 Loaned Executive from SMUD

After surviving two bouts with cancer, both requiring major surgery including various chemotherapy cocktails and one round of radiation, I feel blessed. Why? First the obvious, I’m still alive! But seriously, living can be overrated, it’s the quality of life that is important. I am fortunate to have a very loving, supportive family, support from my co-workers, excellent benefits, and world class care. Others are not as fortunate. In fact, some cancer patients don’t even have transportation to get their daily dose of chemotherapy poison. That’s where nonprofits like United Way and The American Cancer Society come into action. That’s where United Way flexes it’s muscle, giving nonprofits exposure to donors and building coalitions to deal with the larger global issues in our community.

As a United Way Loaned Executive from SMUD, I have had the privilege to work on this year’s giving campaign. I have learned a lot, not just administratively, but about the human spirit. I have many poignant memories.

I observed a timid middle-age woman, stooped over, clutching her purse, ready to enter the refuge of a counseling room at the WEAVE center.

The contrasts at the WIND safe haven facility in Del Paso Heights for troubled youth – one a teenage boy attempting to study at a table in the dimly lit, noisy cafeteria and later another teenage boy being placed in a police car outside the Wind facility, perhaps his last chance wasted because help couldn’t reach him in time.

I remember visiting the EMQ home and school classrooms. It was the same day my grandson started kindergarten. As we visited the classrooms, one stood out in particular with its tiny tables and chairs, it was for kindergarten and first grade students; innocent babies. I saw a note on the bulletin board scribbled in crayon pledging to behave in class, in exchange for a trip to McDonalds for a Happy Meal.

The emotions I experienced witnessing the need and struggles of the needy, particularly the children, can be depressing. However, meeting their dedicated staff and volunteers working to make a difference and address their particular nonprofit’s challenges, was inspirational. It energized my passion to work even harder as an advocate for the unfortunate in my role as a loaned executive for United Way.

My time at United Way for the 2010-2011 giving campaign has gone by too fast. I will be returning to my job at SMUD on Nov. 22. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at United Way, the great United Way staff and volunteers I have met, the opportunity to visit and help many fine nonprofits, using my public speaking experience to talk to folks in business who also want to make a difference, and my buddy and fellow loaned executive Aqua.

Even though it is sad to go, I leave with a sense of satisfaction that in my own small way I have made a difference and given back to our community. I look forward to many more giving and volunteer experiences in the future.