A Generous Winner
Anurag Choudhary attended one of United Way of King County’s Eat, Drink & Be Generous fall events to learn more about the work the organization does to fight homelessness, especially in the time of COVID.
Little did he know that two months later, he would be the winner of two first-class, round-trip tickets on Alaska Airlines that United Way offered as an incentive for guests to donate. The winner was picked on Dec. 31. The airline has given United Way one more set of tickets that will be offered at future events.
“I didn’t even know there was an Alaska Airlines prize until the very event,” said Choudhary, a committee member of one of United Way’s affinity groups, Emerging Leaders 365 at Microsoft.
As an incentive to donate at the events, attendees who committed to giving at Emerging Leaders 365 or Change Makers levels were entered in the contest. The tickets were provided by the airline, one of the signature supporters of the Be Generous series of community cocktail hours and chef’s tables that are hosted by some of the area’s best-known restaurateurs.
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. Most events have been held online via livestream and have featured a variety of chefs.
Ethan Stowell and Steve Hooper Jr., Ethan Stowell Restaurants’ co-owners and this year’s campaign co-chairs for United Way, came up with the idea to hold the virtual, chef-centered events that have been taking place since fall and will continue into 2021. Microsoft sponsors all Be Generous events, so all the proceeds from ticket sales and donations go directly to support the community.
Choudhary said he first got involved with United Way in 2017 as a volunteer. Within a short time, he started donating and giving more to the community.
“I have the privilege of being in a position where I make more money than I use,” Choudhary said. “At least I don’t have to worry about housing, about education, about any of those three or four things that are the top priorities for United Way.”
Choudhary said he learned quite a bit at the event, particularly how COVID has impacted the homelessness crisis. But he also got to cook scallops, something he had never done before. Ethan Stowell emceed the night and taught attendees the right way to make the delicacy.
Choudhary is glad United Way is offering the events to support the community, even if they are not in person due to health department guidelines.
“I think it is important in the grand scheme of things, for sure, because you don’t want to stop things just because of social distancing, because these events are more needed now than ever,” he said. “It makes me happy that these events exist in whatever form is possible. It’s so super-important, super-critical to have them.”
Choudhary added that he’s looking forward to more cooking events.
“I feel like my work-at-home life needs more cooking,” he added with a smile.
Choudhary said he’s not sure when and where he’s going to fly with his tickets, but he has some ideas. Pre-pandemic, he has traveled to Chicago often and has a relative in Washington, DC, whom he could visit.
“Do I want to use this prize for a must-go place? Like a place I would have gone anyway, or should I use it for something that is completely spontaneous or optional?”
However, he did say Mexico would probably be a good choice, “That would be awesome!”