Raven Eggson-Washington and Taylor Case come from two very different backgrounds. Taylor is from the small Illinois town of Hinckley. Raven is from Milwaukee. But they do have some important things in common: both are junior Psychology majors, both are serving in paid internships for the United Way of Dane County as 'loaned executives,' and both recognize the transformation that's taking place in themselves.
The two share stories of service, and of the power of philanthropy, at businesses and organizations throughout Greater Madison. For Taylor, the main message when she speaks to the large gatherings is, despite a challenging economy, community is more important than ever.
"There are people who can barely get by, and that's what I really want to get across," Taylor says. Service this fall is just the next chapter for her. She completed a fundraising internship in Chicago, during summer 2011, and says she began tutoring elementary school kids her freshman year. "I think really within the last year I've realized that I'm very blessed, with everything I have, and the opportunities that I've been given. I'm healthy, and I'm able. So I really feel that it's my opportunity to give back. So I really want to go out there full-force and try to help. I think this has made me realize want I want to do - I'm sure I'll pursue a career in a non-profit, helping with kids."
Both Taylor and Raven completed two and a half weeks of nine-hour-a-day training before embarking on their outreach to Dane County organizations, training that for Raven - who admits a bit of apprehension - was all she needed. "Once you start to hear the personal stories, and you see the impact that people can have on the community, it makes you feel like it's your duty to go out there and let people know," she says. "The cause speaks louder than any fear you may have about getting up there and speaking. Once you get to that personal story, that personal connection, you just feel obligated to do as much as you possibly can - because there really are people who need this."
It's a need that Raven has already seen, and a role that allows her to take meaningful action. "For me coming from Milwaukee, it's not something that's foreign to me, but to see (the United Way) placing so much emphasis on it, and doing the planning and goal-setting addressing the problems, to me that was just a breath of fresh air, something that I could really commit myself to."
"Having an effect on people, when I felt like I couldn't before, that's where my passion comes from, she adds. "I think that's where I'm able to go to sleep at night and think, 'I did a good thing today.'"