Work the phones and help hurricane evacuees find help this weekend

Have you heard of 2-1-1? It’s like 4-1-1 except that it offers free, statewide, 24-hour access to health and human services and disaster information through its multilingual helpline.

As you can imagine, it’s a great resource for people all over southeast Texas who are being displaced by the hurricanes. They call to find out where to find shelter or food, how to get help moving special needs people, even how to get help moving pets.

Thanks to Gustav, the 2-1-1 line had a 300% increase in volume of calls over one weekend. And hurricane season is not over yet. You’re heard of Ike, right?

There are a couple of ways you can help:

The first is to make a donation to 2-1-1 so they can get the folks and other resouces they need to serve the people displaced by Hurricane Ike.

The second is to VOLUNTEER YOURSELF in Austin this weekend. There will be training, and all you need to get the job is the ability to care about people and help them find their way. If you’re bilingual, you’re especially needed. Just register with United Way Capital Area to get started.

OR if you are interested in becoming a Disaster Response Volunteer for 2-1-1 Texas, call 2-1-1 or email Kimberly Blackburn.

Thanks for your help!

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5 Questions for Kim Jowers, Executive Chair of Young Leaders Society

The Young Leaders Society engages Austinites between 21 and 45 years old who give $1000 or more to United Way Capital Area. Unlike a typical professional society, membership in this group emphasizes education opportunities in philanthropy and civic engagement. YLS members are committed to a better Austin and often have second careers in philanthropy.

Which makes for some busy people. I met Kim Jowers at the Head Honcho pitch ‘n putt event earlier this year. She just had a baby, too – a boy named Rhys. We were talking about typical new mom things – sleeping, nannies, not sleeping, and adjusting to this new life – when I realized she not only had a full-time job but was also leader of YLS. Wow. Good on you, Kim.

1. Along with opportunities for professional development, YLS offers its members a chance to learn more about growing their philanthropic “careers.” That’s a little more than what other professional associations offer, which might be the reason people join. Tell me about the kinds of people who join YLS in general.

The group is well represented as the focus is first on giving and so our membership have “day” jobs that run the gamut of professions. I believe the people that join are those that want to network with other like-minded individuals who are concerned with ensuring our Central Texas area is addressing the parts of society where there is a critical need.

2. So do YLS members have previous experience in philanthropy?

It depends, although I think for the majority of the group they are very civic-minded and especially concerned with making sure Central Texas is a better place to live. But, even if they have not volunteered much, YLS provides those opportunities for their membership both through actual volunteer events, the inspiring monthly lunch with leaders series or the workshops where we partner with groups such as Greenlights and Leadership Austin.

3. What about particular concerns? Do they come in wanting to serve a particular need?

You’ll find a wide breadth of concerns among our membership and they want to be a catalyst for making positive changes in our community. One great thing about the YLS group is being a part of United Way, which serves so many needs in our community.

4. Right, that’s how you become a member, but donating $1000 or more a year to United Way. Did the recent funding changes at United Way sit well with YLS members in general?

It seems to be sitting well with our membership. We have a close relationship with the leadership at United Way and they have made themselves very accessible to our membership to get any questions answered. The United Way researched this new approach very thoroughly and looking at the three areas they are focused on (education financial stability and health), it is hard to argue that the need is not there and further, not want to be a part of helping make a difference. I think it is pretty exciting!

5. Change does make things interesting, that’s for sure. You’d think lots of young professionals would want to be a part of it.

We need to increase awareness of groups like ours, show them what we are doing, how our efforts make a difference and how exciting and good it feels to be a part of it. Additionally, we are all very busy and I think we need to continue to provide relevant events and workshops, like YLS does, to our membership…making it easy and fun to be a part of.

I think young professionals bring a lot to the table: energy, enthusiasm, fresh ideas, a different perspective from the other traditional areas of philanthropic giving. I think energy and a different perspective are the big ones.

Kim Jowers is a finance manager for Applied Materials, currently working in the Sarbanes-Oxley program management office. She also serves on Applied’s Education committee, which reviews and makes decisions on where Applied will spend their philanthropy dollars earmarked for education in the Austin community.

Kim’s been a YLS member for four years. “I enjoy participating in volunteer activities that YLS puts together, including volunteering at ARCH, Marathon water stop, helping kids get financial aid, etc.” She’s married and is a new mother to six-month-old Rhys.