Brian and Mary Massey have been involved with United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties in various capacities for over 40 years. Brian Massey has been a member of the Board of Directors, served as interim CEO, and currently chairs the Community Impact Committee and Spring Tee-Off Committee. In addition to being a member of the Spring Tee-Off Committee, Mary Massey joined our Women United group in 2014. The Masseys are dedicated volunteers whose knowledge and passion have been invaluable to our community.
What drew you to United Way given the variety of choices in giving and serving as a volunteer in our community?
Brian: I donated through workplace giving for many years, which was instrumental in my awareness of various charities. I chose United Way as my primary charity based on its focus on local communities. The grants given to need-based nonprofits were visible, recognizable and precise in their intention. Once I volunteered for the well-organized nonprofit, I was hooked! The opportunity and impact of giving back had a profound impact on me.
Mary: It had been my understanding that United Way was a huge charitable organization which dispersed funds to other large organizations. When I learned United Way had changed its goals and methods by seeking input from local communities and working with those communities to resolve their issues, I felt this was an organization I wanted to help.
You have been dedicated leaders and loyal donors to this organization for many years. What would you say are compelling reasons to support United Way?
Brian: In our two fine counties, there are countless children and families who are in need of support—not just financial, but holistic in scope. How can you turn away from that fact when you have the capacity to help in so many ways? You cannot; that is the compelling reason. The mission of directing efforts locally in Monmouth and Ocean counties remains my focus.
Mary: United Way reaches out to towns in Monmouth and Ocean Counties and seeks feedback from the communities about their needs. Whether UWMOC supports programs providing financial guidance for individuals attempting to better their lives; funds early reading programs; or provides books, coats, school supplies and more; its decisions are made with input from the various communities. With this local involvement, United Way can mold its objectives to meet the ever-changing needs of the people in Monmouth and Ocean counties.
Brian – As the Chair of the Community Impact Committee, which of our impact areas speaks to you the most and why?
While all four of our community impact focus areas earn my interest, there is one that stands out. That is the Early Grade Reading initiative, and within that area the School-Based Nurse Practitioner program. Getting our children’s early years off to the right start, both with their skills and health, is so important.
Mary – Our Women United group works to combat the summer slide and help children read on grade level by the start of fourth grade. As one of the founding members, why is this work important to you?
I did not know of the “summer slide” before I became a United Way volunteer. I was deeply moved but also angered to learn that an inability to read at grade level by the third grade can set a child’s future. This is because by the fourth grade a child should no longer be learning to read, but rather reading to learn. It is shocking that a child’s future is destined by the age of 8 or 9. No child should bear a burden of failure at this early age. Today’s world offers enough strife in a child’s life, the inability to read should not be one of them.
What does it mean to you to “Live United”?
Brian: Living United means having a sense of community and realizing that individually we all have to be involved in the solution. Action and participation are the foundation of Living United.
Mary: To me, Live United means that we are all united and connected. Regardless of our skills, there is always something we can do to better the life experiences of those less fortunate.