The United Way Community Ambassador Program: A Different Kind of Loan

The best stories are the stories that come from the people who live them.

Through our partnership with the United Way’s Community Ambassador Program, BBH can give back to our communities in a truly unique and impactful way. BBH has participated in the program for more than 20 years, “lending” talented employees to the United Way for 15 weeks in the fall.

“The positives of this program are two-sided,” said Partner Kevin Stone. “UW receives the benefit of additional talent who provide new ideas, while the Ambassadors have a unique growth opportunity to develop new skills, stretch outside their familiar roles, and gain a greater connection to the life-changing philanthropic work BBH helps to support throughout the year. Participants return with a fresh perspective, BBH teammates providing coverage for loaned employees get to try out new roles, and UW expands their client reach and impact.”

Learn more below about the experiences of our two most recent participants, Cheryl Nicholas and Sam Abbassi.  

This experience gave me hope that together we can break the cycle of poverty by focusing on a two-generation approach.”

What did you do for United Way New York City (UWNYC) as a “loaned executive”?

Sam Abbassi: I was assigned to work with UWNYC’s Resource Development team during the peak campaign time frame and was amazed at the behind-the-scenes efforts to run a successful campaign. I visited many companies during their campaign kick-offs to bring to light the fact that New York City has some of the most significant concentrations of urban poverty in the United States. Too many New Yorkers do not have enough income to cover the basics of food, housing, etcetera. One of my focal points was explaining to potential donors the impact their donations have on our community and the importance of their participation in the fight against poverty.

Cheryl Nicholas: Loaned executives provide an extension of resources for UWNYC during the busy fall season, when many companies launch workplace campaigns. I was able to provide much-needed assistance facilitating volunteer initiatives including kit packing events, food pantry/soup kitchen visits, gardening projects, and resume writing/mock interview events. Additionally, since I came from the corporate sector, I provided an insider’s perspective that served to enhance workplace campaigns of other corporate partners.

What did you learn about United Way?

Sam: This experience gave me hope that together we can break the cycle of poverty. UWNYC’s initiatives help our community by focusing on a two-generation approach: first, empowering children at an early age through the ReadNYC initiative; second, enabling adults to move their households out of crisis and achieve increasing levels of financial security. This experience has undoubtedly given me a closer connection to the community and made me a lifelong advocate for United Way.

Cheryl: It was an honor to represent BBH as a United Way Community Ambassador, and I’m truly grateful to have been a part of the movement at UWNYC to help make a difference in the community and propel low-income New Yorkers on the path toward self-sufficient lives. It’s inspiring to see such a scalable impact in the community — made possible because of the collective donations of many members of our community coming together to make a difference for those in need.

What did you bring back to BBH from your experience?

Cheryl: This was an amazing leadership experience that was highly rewarding both professionally and personally, and I’ve been able to utilize so many of the skills I learned since my return to BBH. While with UWNYC, I developed extensive leadership, marketing, project management, communication, and relationship management skills by assisting in the planning and execution of workplace campaigns for more than 25 corporate partners. I also strengthened my public speaking and negotiation through interactions with potential donors.

Sam: I was able to further develop my skills in a variety of areas such as: project management, presentation, consultative sales, and networking. Now that I’m back at BBH, I’m working to educate others within the organization on the importance of being involved in our community and all the ways BBH and UWNYC make a difference. I hope all BBHers join me on this journey to ensure our neighbors can become self-sufficient and break the cycle of poverty.

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