Ready, Set, Chicago!

By United Way of King County, on June 1, 2022 | In Change Makers, Emerging Leaders 365, Events

Paul Jonusaitis is the only member of his family that resides in the Pacific Northwest; all of the Kirkland resident’s siblings reside two time zones away in the Chicago area. Thanks to his donation at a United Way of King County Eat, Drink & Be Generous event, Jonusaitis can travel to Chicagoland free of charge to see his family.

Jonusaitis was among many attendees who became Emerging Leaders 365 or Change Maker donors during a February Eat, Drink & Be Generous event: Cookies & Cocktails with Robin Wehl Martin of Hello Robin cookie shop and Donna Moodie of Marjorie restaurant. Eat, Drink &Be Generous events were held throughout the spring.

Folks who give single donations of $365 (or $30 a month for one year) become Emerging Leader 365 donors and help United Way partner with other organizations to address needs in our communities. Change Maker donors give at least $100 a month for a year.

As a result of his donation, Jonusaitis became the winner of two round-trip, main cabin Alaska Airlines tickets that United Way offered as a giveaway incentive for guests to donate at Eat, Drink & Be Generous events.

“I moved to the Seattle area 11 years ago for my job, and because that keeps me too busy to do much volunteer work,” said Jonusaitis, who works at Edifecs, Inc., as a senior director of training & education, “I feel that donating to local charities is a practical way to support my community. United Way has a very good grasp of what is needed and I trust it to use donations wisely.”

The Be Generous events offer a way for guests to contribute to alleviate food and housing insecurity faced by the community, particularly by Black, Indigenous and people of color. Giving community donations are used to fight homelessness and poverty in King County communities, particularly among people of color. Institutional and systemic racism has left people of color in our communities to experience disproportionate inequalities.

Most Eat, Drink & Be Generous events have been held online via livestream and have featured a variety of chefs. The Be Generous series features community cocktail hours and chef’s tables that are hosted by some of the area’s best-known restaurateurs.

Attendees at the virtual cookies and wine fete in February received hand-packed meal kits, an entertaining program and a chance to dive deep on a community issue.

“I thought it was a fun event, and I even learned some new things about baking and wine, and about the diversity of small businesses in this state,” Jonusaitis said. “My wife is a retired social worker who had worked for a food pantry and homeless shelter, and through her I learned a lot about the nature of homelessness and food insecurity, so I have a particular interest in those issues.”

Want to be like Paul Jonusaitis? Please check our website regularly for future Eat, Drink & Be Generous events or learn about becoming an Emerging Leaders 365 or Change Maker donor to help United Way make an even bigger impact in our community.


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