By Morgan O’Brien, Chair of United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s annual campaign
As a longtime supporter and current campaign chair, Morgan O’Brien has a unique vantage point on need in our region and how United Way acts to help vulnerable community members. Through the pitfalls and hardships of the last year, Morgan is proud of how neighbors stood tall, got creative, and worked together. First issued in Pittsburgh Business Times, read Morgan’s thoughts below.
As this pandemic began to emerge a year ago, my journey began with leaving my office on the North Shore for the final time to begin working from home. I was presented the opportunity to chair the United Way Annual Campaign for the region. As we are now coming to the end of the campaign – and without divulging specific results – I can tell you proudly: Pittsburghers stood tall!
The campaign began against the backdrop of many small businesses being shut down and many hard-working families faced with unemployment and furloughs that came without warning.
At the same time, people began getting used to what it’s like to do your job from your home. Group meetings and any type of gatherings were forbidden under the pandemic protocols.
The United Way quietly gathered a large group of business leaders here who had full-time jobs managing their businesses and protecting their workers in all these new and complex conditions. These leaders engaged with their employees using the new tools we are all still learning to master. They spoke from their hearts. They talked about how great the need was in this community and how we all need to respond this time like never before. These were our most prominent corporate and community leaders from PNC, PPG Industries Inc., UPMC, Highmark Health and nearly every large- and medium-sized employer.
Watching this heroic and collaborative effort has made me more proud than ever to be a Pittsburgher! Our neighbors needed leadership and help more than ever, and while they were working hard to keep their businesses on track, the executives who lead our biggest employers found the time and the energy to drive a United Way campaign that will be remembered as one of the most meaningful in history!
I feel certain Pittsburgh is going to get through this pandemic and more and more families will be back to work and back to a more normal lifestyle. I will never forget the importance of our business community and its leaders, and their passionate and selfless efforts that have, are and will deliver the help and assistance that’s needed by so many families in western Pennsylvania. I encourage us all to remember them too!