Board members volunteering at Schoolhouse Supplies on MLK Weekend of Service. L to R: Jason Green, Cindy Adams and Mark Poling (photo by Megan Zabel Holmes for United Way of the Columbia-Willamette)

Hello and Aloha!
I am delighted to be in Portland having recently joined United Way of the Columbia-Willamette (UWCW) as its President and CEO in mid-December of 2019. Previously, I was with Aloha United Way in Honolulu.
Upon arriving, I was excited to learn about our significant role in, and commitment to, MLK Weekend of Service. It was the first such experience for me and it turned out to be one of the most inspiring acts of volunteerism I have been involved. I had the pleasure of participating in various activities - joining the volunteers at Schoolhouse Supplies (where we sorted over 12,500 books donated by Powell’s Books), attending the Skanner MLK Breakfast, as well as volunteering at the SOLVE Project at Irving Park and Native Gardening Project at Cully Park. 


There was an incredible amount of energy and excitement (and sweat!) over MLK weekend from our volunteers, families, corporate leadership and employees. Over 1500 people showed up for one purpose — to honor Dr. King’s legacy by supporting our nonprofit partners and their work in our communities. Thank you to all the volunteers, our sponsors, our Hands On Greater Portland volunteer program staff and the rest of our employees at UWCW who led and served across 60+ projects in our region. Our nonprofit partners expressed tremendous gratitude for everyone’s support and generosity.

Volunteers at Children's Book Bank

I am now at the two-month mark at UWCW and have had opportunity to visit our communities, connect with our donors and meet with our nonprofit partners. We have some significant social issues to tackle and much work to do. 

There is tremendous opportunity to invest in our kids, our families, to remove barriers and elevate the resilience of our families who are the building blocks and fabric of our communities.

To accomplish that, we have to come together and collaborate—nonprofit, business, government, philanthropy and community. This is what UWCW has done for 100 years in serving vulnerable children and families in our region – bring people together to make a difference. 

We will continue to approach our work collaboratively with a lens toward racial and economic equity. This is not an easy task for many reasons but we are making progress with partners who share the same belief – that every child and family should have the necessary resources to thrive and reach their full potential. We are optimistic that together we can achieve success in creating better outcomes and opportunities for generations to come.