#WhyWednesday: Maria Torres

Maria Torres, Community Relations Specialist at UPS, has always been driven to make a difference. As a board member with United Way of Greater Atlanta’s LINC, she’s found her people and is fulfilling her purpose!

Maria says, “I always joke that I have a little ‘I want to save the world’ in me.” Today, watch Maria share her why and learn more about how she’s making an impact in our region alongside her fellow LINC members.

Ready to find your people? United Way’s LINC (Lead. Impact. Network. Change.) is a group of young professionals working to elevate their community and their connections—and you can be a part. Learn how you can get involved with LINC!

LINC Member, Maria Torres
Community Relations Specialist
United Parcel Service


LINC:
Why did you decide to get involved with United Way of Greater Atlanta’s LINC group?
Maria: I decided to get involved with LINC because I met Lauren at a UPS event and she told me so much about it that I had to check it out. The minute she mentioned community impact and being able to meet like-minded individuals, I was hooked. United Way and UPS have had a partnership for decades so I reached out to people who were once a part of LINC and they had nothing but positive things to say about it. I went to one meeting and knew this was something I undoubtedly wanted to be part of.


LINC:
What aspect of United Way’s work in the community are you most passionate about supporting?
Maria: I am most passionate about supporting their Kid’s Initiative, because kids are my priority when it comes to community impact. The impact that UW has made in just a year has been amazing, and I really want to see it continue, and be a part of it.


LINC:
What is your favorite quote?
Maria: “Never stop believing in the wild possibility that is you and your impact. Live in purpose. On purpose.”

“It’s an exciting time to live in Greater Atlanta! We are a community that never ceases to go above and beyond to extend support, and we have an exorbitant number of companies promoting their employees to get involved. We want YOU (our members) to show up to make our community a place where everyone can thrive.

It is an exciting time to live in Greater Atlanta, and the United Way is right in the middle of it! Located directly in the heart of Atlanta, United Way’s headquarters is always filled with people committed to serving the needs of our community and works as a conduit for those looking to get involved while having a fun and adventurous time in the process.

As the 2019-2020 Chair of LINC (Lead. Impact. Network. Change.), I can personally attest to the kindness, generosity, and desire to lead that I have witnessed in our members. It has been absolutely marvelous to be immersed in the drive and motivation that LINC members have displayed in their efforts to change the status quo and transform this city into a place where everyone can be proud to live.

There is so much more we can do! And we heard you. You want LINC to be the group that motivates you to volunteer with the causes that are meaningful to you, shares the impact of your generosity, and supports you as you grow as a leader in this city we call home. This year we are giving you asked for: more opportunities to show up!

In this exciting time to live in Greater Atlanta, and the time has never been better to get involved with LINC. I look forward to seeing you all out there.”

– Nick Alvarez

Young adults can sometimes get a bad rap—the word “millennial” can carry a negative connotation as someone who is apathetic.
But, that’s a misnomer. There are many young professionals all across Atlanta with a passion for serving their communities. They just may not have always known how to.

At United Way of Greater Atlanta, adults from age 22-30 can have access to a network of young people like themselves with a shared passion for driving change in the community. By donating $250 or more to United Way annually, these people have access to the Lead.Impact.Network.Change (LINC) affinity group.

“The biggest benefit and why [LINC] came about is that we wanted to give people the opportunity to see our brand, not only in our market, but in places where [members] may travel,” said Lauren Rock, director of Young Professional Engagement. “The real goal of LINC was introducing people to the community needs a lot sooner. It was a new way to give people a fun thing to do. There are a lot of events across our market, and you can go somewhere, serve and see a quick return. “It’s a way of introducing United Way’s role in the community.”

LINC’s primary focus is on addressing basic needs and homelessness in Greater Atlanta’s 13 counties. This was something Rose Reardon hadn’t seen as much of in Syracuse, New York, where she lived prior to moving to Atlanta.

Reardon, who serves as co-chair on the LINC Council, had always enjoyed volunteering and helping others. So, it was something she wanted to get involved in once she moved to the South. On one of those first service projects, she said she was brought into the city “further than she had ever gone” from her home. It gave her a chance to see the greater needs of the area.

“My eyes were opened when I moved here,” Reardon said. “It’s very easy to live in a bubble, especially if you don’t live in the downtown or Midtown area. [The first project] was great. We did outdoor beautification and we did some landscaping.

“It was just like, ‘Wow. There are these things I can do. I enjoy doing them, and I’m helping my community and people in need.’”
Like Reardon, Mitch Hogan was also passionate about volunteering. He graduated from the University of Georgia and moved to Atlanta. He had been involved with United Way while in Athens, and when he moved to the area he wanted to get involved with a local United Way.

“I just started looking up what there was, and I found the affinity group online,” Hogan said. “I started talking about United Way and learned what I would be doing, and it seemed like a great opportunity to meet a lot of people and get involved with volunteer events, and once I heard about all of that, I was sold.”

LINC is oftentimes a young professional in Atlanta’s first introduction to philanthropy, so United Way provides a connection to its mission and helping members understand some of the many benefits of joining LINC.

This is an entry-level step to philanthropy. Council members sit on a board and help direct future plans for the group.
Hogan said he liked how the experience was customizable depending on how involved you can become. He said there are enough events to keep you engaged, but everyone is busy, so you have flexibility in the group.

“The reason why I got involved before in college is because I wanted to be around like-minded people that supported each other, and I’m a firm believer that you’ve got to surround yourself with people that you want to be like,” Hogan said. “I want to be someone that is finding out about the issues, tackling those and figuring out new ways to tackle those and raise awareness.”
Reardon echoed Hogan’s sentiment. She agreed that LINC is the perfect place for young people looking to get involved.

“It’s a great way to meet people your age,” Reardon said. “It’s an opportunity to get to know people with the same vision as you. These are people who care about the community.”

To learn more about LINC, click here.

LINC Member, Mitch Hogan
Corporate Banking Analyst
SunTrust Robinson Humphrey

 

LINC: Why did you decide to get involved with United Way of Greater Atlanta’s LINC group?
Mitch: I have a passion for serving and strive to surround myself with people with a similar passion. I graduated from UGA and moved to Atlanta with the goal of meeting new people who love to volunteer and meet others. I quickly came across LINC and was welcomed right away. Once I attended the first event, I could tell the community of people was what I was looking for. Each person I met was incredibly unique and came from all over the place. I loved hearing each person’s story and what drove them to volunteer their time and commit to this community. Some of the best advice I’ve gotten is to plant roots wherever you are, and I could tell that LINC is something that I would want to plant roots in and see how the organization and myself grow overtime.

 

LINC: What aspect of United Way’s work in the community are you most passionate about supporting?
Mitch: I love United Ways work to bring everyone from the community together to understand what the needs are in that community. Specifically, I’m passionate about supporting LINC’s initiative to bring young professionals into a space of giving and volunteering our time. I love to be surrounded by like-minded individuals and I want to continue to work to make the programs and events successful so that more people can learn about how they can make an impact in Atlanta. I’m passionate about serving and I’ve come to learn that each and every event United Way puts on, whether we are fighting homelessness or helping high schoolers understand how to succeed in college, is a way to learn so much about the individuals we are working to help.

 

LINC: What is your favorite quote?
Mitch: “Bloom where you are planted.”

LINC Member, Terry Vilayhong
Commercial Banker, SunTrust Bank


Why did you decide to get involved with United Way of Greater Atlanta’s LINC group?
Terry: I got involved from a United Way campaign when I moved to Atlanta 3 years ago, it was really fulfilling and now I’ve got multiple friends coming on a regular basis.

 

What aspect of United Way’s work in the community are you most passionate about supporting?
Terry: I’m most passionate about helping individuals that don’t have alternatives, circumstances were bad but we can always have faith in the future.

 

What is your favorite quote?
Terry: “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”
– Maya Angelou