If you would have asked me 10 years ago, “what kind of impact will the United Way have on your life”, I would have never imagined the answer I will give you today. Until I joined the Wegmans leadership team in Jamestown, I truly didn’t understand the incredible impact the United Way has on our local community. For me, after my first Impact Tour with the Wegmans leadership team, I never again questioned why we, as a company, partner with them to the extent we do. Wegmans truly believes in making a difference in every community we serve, and what better way to do so then to link arms with those closest to the services available locally.
Four years ago, during my time as Front End Manager, I had the privilege of listening in on a speech given by a JHS senior and her mentor with the Chautauqua Striders program at a young leader’s dinner. I know the presentation was intended to share the impact this woman had on a young student, at a time where she needed guidance most, but I didn’t realize the lasting impact it would have for me personally and professionally. The next day I applied to mentor with the Chautauqua Striders program, and from there grew a relationship that is even stronger today than I could have imagined.
I had the privilege of mentoring a student of my own, a young lady who endured more than my 16-year-old self would have ever handled. I watched her come out of her shell, choose a career path, attend her first dance, try out for her first sports team, and most importantly graduate with a plan to go off to college and get a job in her field. It wasn’t always easy, some days we’d sit in silence coloring together, other days we would talk more in depth about her school work, balancing it all... she’d send me the occasional text on the weekends, we went to an event at the Reg Lenna together.
I knew, that this relationship I built, could mean more. This wasn’t just supposed to be about her and I, this could and should be bigger. Wegmans, being a company that prides themselves on empowering their people, took a leap of faith with me and this program, and allowed me to bring Striders into Wegmans. A few employees from our college Management Intern program joined me in the auditorium at JHS to host an informational session around building not only a great part time but full time career with Wegmans, whether it be with us at the management or culinary level. From this presentation we were able to bring on student employees, and start a partnership that has lived on today.
Watching students grow personally and professionally has been one of the most rewarding experiences for me. I graduated with the intent to become a High School Teacher and always wondered, when I chose Wegmans, if I would miss it? I never looked back. Wegmans has provided me with opportunities time and time again to influence, to teach, to inspire, and to lead some of the most incredible people I have ever met. Being able to have other leaders in our store, take young students and show them what it means to work for a top 100 company, to help them navigate scheduling sports, school, and work, to see them gain the knowledge and self-esteem to join a new department around the store, to see them enjoy employee appreciation events, is something I will be forever grateful to the United Way for entrusting us with this partnership.
The United Way will always be a huge piece of my heart. From the Wegmans fundraising campaigns, which have allowed us the opportunity to truly see the impact our dollars have in the community, to the special fun events we host like Purse Bingo & the Golf Tournament, and most importantly this partnership with the Chautauqua Striders, that has allowed us the opportunity to employ some of the most incredible employees with a desire to learn and grow at a higher level.
Thank you United Way for giving me an opportunity to share my passion with my career, and for providing everyone in our community an opportunity to give back in a way that means something special to them.
UWAYSCC 100 Years, 100 Stories blog submission by Danielle Stone, Wegmans Jamestown, Service Area Manager. At Wegmans their mission is helping you live a healthier, better life through food. Our Values – We Care about the well-being and success of every person. High Standards are a way of life. We pursue excellence in everything we do. We Make a difference in every community we serve. We respect and listen to our people. We empower our people to make decisions that improve their work and benefit our customers and our company.