By Kate Jolley
Originally published in The Florida Times-Union
When you give to United Way of Northeast Florida’s Community Impact Fund, your donation is not taken lightly. Particularly when Patricia Neuendorf is involved.
A veteran United Way volunteer and chair of the Volunteer Accounting Committee (VAC), Neuendorf has seen United Way’s grant allocations and can say this with confidence.
It’s Neuendorf’s committee that provides analysis to support recommendations on how monetary donations from the Community Impact Fund should be allotted to the entities and programs it supports.
“I enjoy my involvement here because it shows me how much United Way cares about the funds given by the community,” Neuendorf said.
Every fall, committee members visit all of the agencies – or impact partners – that receive funds from United Way to enhance education, financial stability and health in our community. Neuendorf said she tries to make as many visits as possible so she can spend a few hours with each organization, witnessing their programs in action.
The VAC is then given access to the impact partners’ financials in order to assess their financial stability. Neuendorf leads her small team of volunteers through the analysis process to make recommendations on the distribution of United Way funds based on whether these organizations are meeting their goals.
“Watching the transformation that some of these organizations go through and knowing that our intervention helped in some small way really keeps me going,” Neuendorf said.
A CPA who was the first woman named partner at Smoak, Davis & Nixon, a local firm where she worked for 16 years before hired as director of internal audit at Patriot Transportation Holdings, Neuendorf has support United Way financially for 15 years.
It wasn’t until a peer and fellow volunteer, Anna Brosche, convinced her to join the VAC that Neuendorf became an active United Way volunteer.
Though it is a significant time commitment, Neuendorf takes pride in the fact she can now be completely comfortable in understanding where her monetary contributions are going.
It is also Neuendorf’s hope community members will step up to volunteer for her committee so the committee has the capacity to expand. Neuendorf is quick to admit she is lucky to have a supportive husband and work for companies that understand the importance of volunteering – and that donating their employees’ time can be just as important as donating financially.
“You can really see the benefits firsthand when you volunteer with organizations like United Way,” Neuendorf said.
She encourages those who might be looking for an outlet through which to give back to the community to check out the volunteer opportunities United Way has to offer.
Neuendorf can both see and feel the impact she is making in the community, and it keeps her coming back for more.