United Way, Amazon, Second Harvest of the Greater Valley, and the Housing Authority of San Joaquin County
Written by President / CEO, Kristen Birtwhistle —
Great partnerships are a pretty cool thing—some are wildly life-changing like Bill Gates and Paul Allen, who helped revolutionize computers with Microsoft, or Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Founders of Apple, and let’s not forget Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream who collectively dreamed up my favorite ice cream—Cherry Garcia. Or Orville and Wilbur Wright who brought us into the skies, while Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers's magnificent moves (But Ginger danced backward and in heels) kept our feet dancing on the ground and our hearts pumping with joy. In short, one could not exist without the other—a co-partnership that shaped their companies, modern flight, and entertainment for the ages.
My list can go on and on, but dare I say that partnerships are powerful. It is also a demonstration that alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much. My enchantment from the beginning with the UWSJC model is that partnerships were a big deal, a very big deal. It is and continues to be the best path forward in advancing our social impact agenda around housing and education and gives us the chops to help our nonprofit agencies meet their missions.
Recently UWSJC with our United Way partners in Stanislaus County—yep, we crossed the county lines to work together—to seize the opportunity to work with one of the largest companies in the world, Amazon. The idea was simple—Amazon would help drive and deliver food boxes to needy areas, Second Harvest would procure and pack an assortment of healthy foods, United Way would be the connector to a given community to assist and organize the delivery of hundreds of food boxes to low income and isolated community neighborhoods in Stockton, Tracy, and Modesto. Snap!
Our reality is that the strength of working collaboratively is critical to the future sustainability of United Way and of our communities’ nonprofits. Last year, when we directed over $1.5M for COVID-19 relief and now, rebuilding it was never manufactured in a silo. Decisions were made together—we worked with the Community Foundation of San Joaquin, generated funding options with our adored Shelter Leaders, connected dots with El Concilio and Child Abuse Prevention Council. And why? Simple—we needed new ideas, we needed to be nimble and let’s face it the best ideas are generated from groups, either like-minded or divergent in needs and interests. But when a common goal is at the forefront, like managing to COVID-19 working together is a requirement, a natural must.
So, while we endeavor to BE BOLDER this year, while AMAZON smiles along the way we are bringing much-needed smiles to our communities most in need. And this is only one example of how partnerships accelerate change. BOLD partnerships must be and are the lifeblood of any institution and for us at UWSJC is the core of our mission—mobilizing the caring power of communities. And at times, those partnerships are difficult, just like when Ginger had to dance backward in heels, while Fred got the spotlight—but in the end, they tap-danced their way to eternal fame. Being a lone ranger is never the answer—here’s to the power of co-partnerships, to the dot connectors, and to those who forgo the ego-centric character of working in silos to finding impact as a team. After all, there is no “I” in team.