During National Volunteer Week, we are highlighting the efforts of several key UWGP volunteers and staff. We hope you enjoy their interviews and are inspired by their service to our community! Looking for a new opportunity to give back? Check out http://volunteer.unitedwaygp.org.
Molly C. Reinfried, CFP Relationship Manager, H.M. Payson
How did you get involved in volunteering with United Way of Greater Portland?
In 2014, I had just moved here from Boston and wanted to get involved in Greater Portland. My friend suggested the United Way as a great place to learn about what’s going on in the community. I reached out and met with Karen Stephenson, and we discussed my skills and interests and what opportunities might be a good fit for me.
Describe the roles you’ve held as a UWGP volunteer:
Given my background in financial planning and portfolio management, I began as a member of the Financial Stability Investment Team [the group of community volunteers that have historically recommended where UWGP should invest in the community]. Through this, I also started volunteering with CA$H Greater Portland, serving as an Opportunity Guide at the tax prep sites. I gathered information from clients and helped them get ready for their appointments, sharing bits of financial advice along the way.
I served on the Financial Stability Investment Team for a second year and also began serving on the CA$H Coalition [the group of nonprofit and for-profit partners working together to help empower individuals and families to achieve long-term financial stability]. More recently, I volunteered on the UNITED We Thrive Awards Review Committee, reviewed the audited financial statements of UWGP’s funded partner agencies, and joined Women United.
What skills have you used while volunteering?
I think it’s important to share the skills you have, and I enjoy the opportunities I’ve had to do this while volunteering.
I have used some of my day-to-day financial planning experience while volunteering with CA$H and more of my analytical skills while reviewing agencies’ financial statements. I’m passionate about financial literacy and education, and I enjoy sharing my knowledge to help empower people with their financial decisions. Even if I tried other things, that always circled back for me.
My experience reviewing the UNITED We Thrive Awards was great! It was the first time I was exposed to some of the individuals and companies that collaborate with UWGP, and I enjoyed serving alongside other committee members from different organizations. It was great to help shape a new process and share feedback to improve it in the future.
In contrast to serving on an investment team where we looked at a broader view of a program prior to making funding recommendations, this year I reviewed just the financial statements, which was a more focused experience for me. I could raise potential concerns from a more removed perspective and felt comfortable doing this after having been a part of the full process in years past.
What keeps you coming back to volunteer? What motivates you?
UWGP’s committees and staff are great to work with – the process is always very clear, and you always know what’s expected and what the outcome is. You know what you’re working toward, even if you’re somewhat removed from the on-the-ground work.
The experiences have also helped me learn about the community. I like being a part of different things giving more broadly because I’m not quite ready to commit to one cause.
What else have you learned from your experience?
Coming from the for-profit world, I’ve learned a lot about how nonprofits function while juggling funding and essentially “emptying the pot” each year. It’s been interesting to watch how organizations continue to grow and can get to the point where they have the capacity to expand their programming and requests for funding. I’ve enjoyed learning about the organizations in our community and how they all sort of work together but have their own niche. I’ve also learned more about the financial stability continuum and how people can work their way up through different stages of financial well-being, from critical needs to wealth creation. I have met people at all different levels through my work and volunteer experiences. It’s helpful to understand more about the resources and opportunities that can help individuals and families move up the ladder.
What advice do you have for someone starting to think about volunteering?
Just do it – just get involved! Part of what was helpful for me was being very honest about the time commitment I could make. I was hesitant to over-commit myself, but UWGP staff members have been very accommodating of my schedule.
Please share a story about your experience.
When our Financial Stability Investment Team was going through one agency’s application, I remember having so many questions and financial concerns. Hearing the pure demand of the community and passions of the agency’s staff in the agency’s review session put some of my more practical concerns in perspective. It wasn’t about balancing the books; it was about giving everything they could to those who needed it.
Any final thoughts about volunteering?
The “feel good” aspect might get you in the door, but it’s not the only reason you do it. Volunteering has lots of benefits – you learn how to work with different people, learn what other like-minded people who volunteer do with their time, and learn more about the community and its needs and the agencies addressing them. Our firm encourages volunteering, and it has definitely made me a better employee.
Note: The Thrive2027 Goal Cabinets are responsible for developing a framework that will best make measurable progress on each of Thrive2027’s three goals. The Cabinets monitor progress on the goals and employ various strategies, including recommending where UWGP’s community investments are made. The Cabinets replaced UWGP’s Investment Teams in 2016.