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Volunteer Spotlight: Ken Ewell

Ken is the Treasurer on our Board of Directors and the Finance Committee Chair. We caught up with him to find out how and why he chooses to Live United.


Hi! Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been involved with United Way?

Hi, my name’s Ken Ewell, and I started volunteering with United Way on a regular basis after I retired in 2013, so it’s been five years.

How did you first get involved here at United Way of Southeastern Connecticut?

Well I had run a company locally here in Southeastern Connecticut so we had dealt with United Way campaigns every year and we also did a number of community projects, and so I knew a lot of the people and staff here, so when it came time for retirement I was looking to do some volunteer work and I was asked to join the board at that point in 2013.

Why do you give back to your community?

Well I’m retired, I’ve had a good life and career, and I felt that when I retired it was time to do other things- obviously spend time with my kids and do some traveling, but also do things where I could give back to the community. So I do work for United Way, I do work for my church, and I do a lot of other community projects.

What kind of work do you do on the Board of Directors?

I joined the board, and soon after I joined the board I got on the finance committee, and in 2014 I was asked to become the treasurer so now I’m the treasurer. So as the treasurer I report to the board on financial matters. I also head up the finance committee, so we look at investments, we look at our budgets and how we’re doing against budgets, we look at financial controls and things like that. So it’s good because it gives me a chance to use my business experience to help people here at United Way.

What other volunteer experiences have you had with United Way?

I’ve done some things with, as I said, with the company we did some projects as a group, which was a great team building exercise for a company to do, to be able to bring employees together to work on projects. Since being on the board I’ve gone to the Food Center, I’ve done some work on the mobile food pantry, and so those are generally the things that I’ve done outside [of my work on the board].

Are there any particular moments from your experience at United Way that have really stayed with you?

I think probably the most significant one in my mind is, the first time when I volunteered at the mobile food pantry it was in New London. And I was surprised as we were setting up tables to see this line of families that were standing there, and by the time we opened the line was really long, and I just-  it kind of is a graphic image of the need, and that really struck home for me in terms of looking at the number of people that are struggling to get basic food. To watch the families and the children coming through the line- and lately we’ve tried to do a lot more with fresh fruits and vegetables, through Coogan Farms and stuff like that- and you see these young kids coming through who are asking their mother ‘What’s this food? What’s that?’ you know, basic foods that you and I take for granted that they’d never had, never tried, these basic fruits and vegetables, and that just really struck home.

What’s your favorite thing about serving on the Board or being involved with United Way in general?

Well I enjoy working with the staff here; it’s a great group of people and they’re doing tremendous things for Southeastern Connecticut. And one thing about the board is that we get reports periodically on how we’re doing in terms of serving the need, as far as food through the Food Center and also in terms of homeless programs, what we’ve done in terms of rehousing people, and it’s just great to see that the work we do here is showing up in tangible things that are happening, that are very positive for the people of Southeastern Connecticut.

What would you say to someone who might be considering volunteering?

Well absolutely, you know, if you’re considering volunteering it’s a great opportunity to get involved with helping needs in Southeastern Connecticut, and there’s a number of opportunities where people can serve. I mean, you can go, as I said, working at the Food Center, mobile food pantries, there are opportunities to get involved in community projects- and so there’s a number of ways you can fit in, there are committees that people can serve on, so certainly what I’d say is, you know, contact United Way, tell them what you’d like to do, and I’m sure that you can fit in to help the organization.

What does ‘Live United’ mean to you?

Living United…you know, I think that Living United has to do with the fact that one thing United Way does is to bring together the donors, the companies and the individual donors, with the agencies that can help assist with particular needs. So Living United is kind of taking that all together, taking the resources that we have access to in terms of donations and applying them, and bringing together the right people. We’ve done that with the food program, we’ve done that with the homeless program, and many other programs where we’ve stepped up to be able to make sure we have the right people in the room. So that’s kind of a united group and a united front to address a particular issue.


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