Organizations are finding new ways to engage younger professionals and bring them together to help serve the community. While millennials have sometimes been labled as a lazy generation, the fact that there is more and more competition for people’s attention today can make it harder to convince people to spend their time helping others.
One such group is the United Way of Central Maryland which through its Emerging Leaders United (ELU) brings together people 40 and younger. Mike Brown, senior corporate development advisor at CareFirst, said he enjoys being part of the ELU group.
He said the activities and events the United Way runs for ELU offer a great way for the younger generation to get involved.
“You’re vying for people’s time and attention,” said Brown, who is a member of the ELU executive council’s membership committee. “I like the United Way’s ability to do things at scale. It allows you to make an impact with your donation and time.”
Brown is also the co-chair of Young Hearts with the American Heart Association, another group focused on engaging young professionals. He said he got involved with ELU as a way to meet new people after he moved to the Baltimore area.
“It’s a way to meet new people and build up your network,” Brown said. “You want to hang out with like-minded individuals.”
There are close to 1,500 members in ELU according to Susan Repko, director of marketing and communications with United Way of Central Maryland. The ELU uses a variety of events to connect with young professionals from happy hours to golf outings.
Brown said ELU allows you to sign up for events on your time and has a wide selection to choose from. They also offer professional development opportunities. He’s attended events with Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and Maryland Commerce Secretary Mike Gill.
“When we band together we can work to unite the community,” Brown said. “This allows you to get out in the community and not stick in your bubble.”
Kelley Chase, associate director of advancement engagement at McDaniel College, is also a member of the ELU executive council. Like Brown, the ability to meet new like-minded people is one of the reasons she enjoys the group. But it’s also a way to give back to the community.
“It’s an opportunity for us to have a voice,” Chase said. “We want to have a substantial impact where we live and work.”
She said she enjoys the opportunity to meet different people, some of which have dealt with hardships means a lot. Chase participated in the Walk a Mile program where participants are given roles of a family so they can see what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes. The family may be struggling to make ends meet or facing other challenges and Chase said it’s an eye-opening experience.
“If we are capable of doing better for ourselves, we have the capacity to do so for others,” Chase said. “We have the responsibility. It’s imperative, especially with the climate we are in to have a voice. This helps me to have my own voice.”