How long have you been involved with United Way?

I have been a donor to and volunteer with the United Way in Atlanta and NE Florida for 20+ years.

What prompted you to get involved?

I initially donated a very small amount through a corporate campaign with not a lot of background on all the great work United Way does in the community. I have visited affiliates like the Atlanta Children’s Shelter over the years and witnessed the incredible impact the United Way makes with each donation and that has made me keep giving and increase my gift when possible.

Why is philanthropy important to you?

What other community organizations have you been a part of?  The spirit of giving back is what truly makes a community special and I was fortunate to have that emphasized early on in my life.  I think each of us possesses the ability to share our talents and time to help others.  That can be mentoring, cleaning up a park, or giving financially.  I previously served on the board for the DeKalb Habitat for Humanity affiliate and I am currently an active volunteer advocate for CARE and help with United Way events as much as I can.

What made you encourage your partner to attend Women United events?

I know United Way events are always well presented and Women United events match her interests.  More people thinking about the issues of our city and ways to help is always a good thing!

What is your favorite quote?

“It Always Seems Impossible Until It Is Done” – Nelson Mandela

What inspires you to Live United? What prompted you to get involved with United Way?

Initially I learned that my company held an annual United Way campaign; and the reasons why Enterprise supported the mission was that we believed in giving back to our communities. Our Founding Values speak to supporting the Community that we work and live in and why it matters both professionally and personally to invest in the health and overall wellbeing of everyone. Ever since that initial conversation 23 years ago, I have been involved through volunteerism and my annual pledge as I truly believe we all win when our most vulnerable populations are supported by outreach and programming.

What aspect of United Way’s work in the community are you most passionate about supporting?

Honestly, I’ve been the most involved with the efforts to address the Homeless populations here in Atlanta. The 5am Street to Home outreach is something I regularly attend and invite my colleagues and friends.  Once they witness another person’s life in that “light” they are forever changed. They recognize how fragile and vulnerable life can be for many. No one should ever feel castaway and forgotten and that is why I’ve been so involved with this area of United Way.

Why is philanthropy important to you? What other community organizations are you apart of? 

I grew up in a single parent household and feel very blessed to have been involved with many significant mentors throughout my life, including my mom. I don’t think there is any greater or more fulfilling emotion than the one you receive from giving back; that is truly when lives are changed.

What is your favorite quote? 

I never lose. I either win or learn. – Nelson Mandela

How did our COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund distribute more than $17 million dollars to the most in need in our community in a matter of weeks? With a lot of help from our friends like Lucy at BELUX Coffee Roasters.

How did you hear about the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund?
We are good friends of Sarah Hsi and she recommends us this fund.

What inspired you to give back?
We received a lot of support from our customers during this hard time and would like to give back to the community as much as we can.

How do you link your professional and philanthropic interests?
As a small business in food and beverage industry, we interact a lot with everyday customers from different backgrounds. This prompts us to think what we can do to benefit the community.

How can we find your products?

What is your favorite quote?
Do the right thing; do things right.

United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Cole Society is the umbrella covering three different affinity groups: African-American Partnership, Young Professional Leaders and Cole Women United.

Cole Society has around 8,000 members who have invested millions of dollars into Greater Atlanta. To qualify for Cole Society, you must give an annual gift of $1,000 up to $9,999.

“Your contribution to the Cole Society enables you to participate in those three groups,” Eve Powell, a strategic leader who assists in an administrative capacity with Cole Society, said. “We don’t have a committee. We have a panel that we call our ‘advisory panel,’ and we have a dozen members who meet quarterly.

“We don’t have a focus area, specifically. Our focus is just child well-being.”

Improving the well-being of children in Greater Atlanta’s 13 counties has been the primary agenda for United Way since its last strategic planning meeting. Born out of this meeting was the Child Well-Being Index. United Way found certain zip codes where people were born created a barrier that prevented children to reach their life’s full potential.

A data committee looked at how we measure potential for a child. Fourteen measures in determining child well-being were selected. Compiled data showed half a million children in Greater Atlanta grow up without the resources, opportunities or social supports to reach their full potential. The index gave United Way a tool to measure this. The data was daunting, but the data created a common goal for the organization to work toward correcting.

There is now this organization-wide shared agenda, and all roads to giving point toward reversing the implications of the Child Well-Being Index. Affinity groups allow members to meet with other like-minded people who understand the importance of giving back to their communities.

“We don’t have any events that are just Cole Society,” Powell said. “We want people to get into an affinity group and be participatory in all that we do. You would give at the Cole level and you can be a member of the other three.”

Cole donors are a diverse group who unite around this common goal of helping others.

Powell doesn’t directly recruit new members for Cole Society, but she works in a planning and leadership role with United Way of Greater Atlanta’s development officers. These development officers work with corporate partners to recruit members for leadership giving, which opens them up to affinity groups.

Cole Society is named for Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, who served previously as board chair of United Way of Greater Atlanta and was former president of Spelman College, a historically black women’s college in Atlanta.

Cole believed we have the power to generate change and transform the tomorrows of people in the community, and through the Child Well-Being agenda, community members work together to build strong foundations and create opportunities for success.

Cole was board chair of United Way of Greater Atlanta as the nonprofit made the shift toward becoming an “impact organization,” Powell said.

“We were making a big shift from the old United Way where you give us money and we firm it out,” Powell said. “Now, you give us money and we have an agenda. We’re trying to impact specific areas. That’s what drives our investment leaders.”

Click here to learn about more ways Cole members can engage in their communities.

Cole Society consists of people in the Greater Atlanta area who have one shared focus: helping others. The mission is the same and Cole Society encourages people who have given to United Way to put more than just their dollars to work.

They are calling people to be leaders in the community.

“I think we are trying to build communities of like-minded people and people that think that it’s important to give back and invest in the health of our community,” Powell said. “What we’re asking people to do is step up and become leaders—that’s why this is called, ‘Leadership Giving.’

“We want to ask people to take a stand.”

To learn more about Cole Society, click here.