This month’s Spotlight features Laura Hickman, an active member of UCP of Greater Cleveland’s young professionals group the Friends Committee.
Laura Hickman has a long history with UCP, working at both UCP of Greater Atlanta and UCP of New York City with roles that ranged from Direct Support Professional to Vice President of Marketing.
When Laura’s family relocated to Cleveland, she was looking for opportunities to continue her relationship with the population she has been passionate about and connected to for years. “My long history with UCP drew me to the local Cleveland affiliate,” said Laura. She did some research and found information about the Friends Committee on UCP of Greater Cleveland’s website (http://www.ucpcleveland.org/giving-and-volunteering/volunteer/friends-of-ucp). After that, there was no stopping her!
Even though Laura has worked at previous UCP affiliates, she was eager to take a tour of UCP of Greater Cleveland’s facility to see what our agency’s main focus is. “Every community need is different, and I know each affiliate responds to those needs in a manner that best suits that specific population,” said Laura.
“People volunteer three main things: their time, talent and treasure,” said Laura. “And that’s what I try to provide to UCP of Greater Cleveland. I think the most valuable thing I provide is my time.” Laura doesn’t mean just giving her time attending meetings and UCP events, but the time she spends talking to her colleagues, friends and family about UCP and the developmental disability population. She and her family even participate in the Race to Empower 5k and One Mile Fun Run as well as volunteer as part of Team UCP at the Cleveland Triathlon.
“I want to give my time out in the community educating anyone and everyone that will listen – not only about what this agency offers, but giving my voice to an underserved population,” said Laura. It’s amazing she has any extra time considering she is the mother of 5-year-old triplet boys!
In addition to acting as an advocate for the agency and participating in races, Laura and the rest of the Friends Committee members host different events such as the Browns Tailgate fundraiser, a Children’s Services family night and the Community Employment & Transition Services holiday party. “Hosting a party is a small gesture for the committee, but it makes a big impact in the clients’ lives,” said Laura. “Offering our time and an ear is important. They look forward to that party every year.”
Laura also serves as the liaison between the Friends Committee and the Development Committee, which is predominantly made up by UCP of Greater Cleveland Board Members. Together, they try to find collaborations between UCP and other organizations.
Laura says her favorite thing about being involved with the Friends Committee is connecting with other people and hearing about how they became a part of the organization. “We all have a common goal and passion, and I love hearing other people’s journeys on how they came to UCP,” said Laura. “I came to it through a job, but some people have family connections, some have community connections, and others have just heard stories through word of mouth.”
But Laura stresses not to just take her word for it. “You should get connected and experience it for yourself!”
For more information about the Friends Committee, please contact Tammy Willet, Director of Development, at (216) 791-8363 ext. 1228 or email@example.com.