Posted by: Shirley Chapin, Emerging Leaders United and Online Engagement Associate
Since Emerging Leaders United (ELU)’s inception in 2015, ELU members have participated in nearly 200 opportunities, with 2019 leading the way as our biggest year to date. This year our 400+ ELU members participated in 53 opportunities, which represent nine social events, 38 volunteer projects and six personal and professional development sessions.
ELU connects, educates and empowers Emerging Leaders in Berks County through volunteerism and philanthropy, and we keep this mission in mind when planning all of our events. At each social event this year, we invited local agencies to attend and share a message about the work they’re doing in the community. We also encouraged ELU members to bring items to benefit the featured agency. A perfect example of this was our Hoppy Holidays social, which was held at a local brewery during November, a month we dedicate to Helping Our Heroes in honor of Veterans Day. ELU members heard from Jennifer Graham, the Executive Director of American Red Cross Tri-County, about how their work benefits veterans in our community. ELU members also donated non-perishable food items to benefit the Red Cross’s Holiday basket program for 350 veterans in our community. Members enjoy the socials because they’re able to connect with like-minded individuals, grow their network and make a difference to a local agency.
Our members tell us one of the main reasons they join ELU is because of the diverse volunteer opportunities and how simple it is to get involved. One of our favorite volunteer opportunities has been hosting an annual Mother’s Day party for the women of Safe Berks, where the moms get pampered while ELU members take care of the children and serve them dinner. Another favorite event is Zumba night at Providence House, a low-income senior housing facility in the city of Reading. The seniors enjoy the conversations, the dancing and all of the fun from these events. They constantly ask us when we will be returning!
Our year would not have been complete without hosting our annual Santa’s Workshop holiday party for the kiddos of the Oakbrook Olivet Boys and Girls Club. This event proves to be a favorite year after year because it provides an opportunity to spread holiday cheer to kids who may not experience it otherwise. For the first time this year, we partnered with Reading Truck Group to host this event, where more than 50 children ate breakfast, created crafts, enjoyed a photo booth (thanks to RedTie Affairs), chose gifts for family members (thanks to Boscov’s), and even had the chance to meet Santa.
ELU members grow both personally and professionally through exclusive development opportunities. In addition to learning how to Mix and Mingle Like a Boss, through a session lead by Dale Carnegie Training’s Mike Iorio, and discovering how to succeed at doing what they love, led by local author David Nazario, members had the opportunity to connect with local business and community leaders through our newest series, Leading the Way through Conversations and Connections. Our inaugural event was held in March and was hosted by George Zeppos at Willoughby’s on Park. George was also a featured speaker at the event along with Sue Perrotty and Joni Naugle. ELU members learned about the presenters through a brief introduction and then had the opportunity to sit with two of the three presenters for two, thirty-minute sessions. During these sessions the members were able to ask both personal and professional questions. Because the first event was such a success, we hosted another in October featuring David Capitano, Nick Marmontello, and Doug and Nancy Yocom.
We are grateful for the amazing work ELU has done in our community and I'm excited to see the impact they have next year!
To learn more about ELU please reach out to me by email at Shirleyc@uwberks.org or by phone at 610-685-4571.