Originally from Chicago, Pete Mendes moved to Pittsburgh with his wife, Cathy, and their three children in 2006. Living in a variety of cities because of Pete’s job at KPMG, the family is now happily settled in the North Allegheny school district, a conveniently close location to downtown Pittsburgh. Right out of school, Pete began working for KPMG, the company that first introduced him to the United Way.
In 2006 he was asked to head the campaign for KPMG, and it was through this campaign that Pete began to meet the wonderful staff of the United Way. Being more involved with the process, Pete started learning more and more about what United Way does, allowing himself and his family to get more involved with the community over time.
“Over the last 8 or 9 years,” Pete explains, “I slowly came to the realization that I needed to focus more on community.” This realization impacted many parts of Pete’s life as well as his family’s life in ways that were a huge benefit to the community and the United Way. Understanding that there are many people in need, and a lot of different ways to help others, Pete and his family involved themselves in philanthropy to help their community. “If you go through life focused on yourself, your family and your job, it is easy to not see those in need around you,” Pete explains. “My wife and I started to pay attention to those in the community who are struggling.” Pete realized that financial support is important, but not always enough. Volunteering at agencies in the Greater Pittsburgh region provide great opportunities for families to spend time together and to make a difference. Beginning with his financial support through the United Way, Pete’s effort to give back morphed into a family effort of giving time to help Pittsburgh.
Pete’s desire to give time and money is a desire he shares with the United Way, so moving up into the Tocqueville society was a natural transition. For Pete, being a Tocqueville member initially was about having the ability to have access to other Tocqueville members, who were important business and community leaders. “Being a part of Tocqueville gives you the ability to interact with the group,” Pete explains, “which is very important in a profession where you need to be well connected.” Pete then continues to explain that Tocqueville is much more than networking, and that he loves the opportunity the society has provided him to learn more about United Way and the needs in the Pittsburgh region. His connections made through the Tocqueville community provided avenues for volunteer work for Pete and his family. The society created an opportunity for Pete’s family to get more involved and understand where United Way chooses to focus its money and efforts and resources.
Being blessed with the opportunity to learn about the philanthropy, Pete can say that he feels comfortable that his money is going towards United Way. “People don’t realize the long list of agencies who are doing very important work,” Pete explains. The United Way identifies the needs of community, identifies agencies that can best help, and ensures that donations go to the right places, giving Pete and other United Way donors peace of mind. Impassioned by the idea that small organizations wouldn’t get resources and money if it wasn’t for the United Way, Pete understands that the United Way performs a vital service to the community. From volunteering at the food bank, senior centers, and a variety of other organizations, Pete and his family enjoy seeing the important work people are doing. A member of the Heinz Award Committee, Pete helps select the Volunteer Of The Year, a job he is passionate about. Loving to read stories of people who give time to help the disadvantaged people of the community every year, Pete should be proud that it is finally his turn.
His interview coming to a close, Pete leaves us on a humble note saying “what I try to keep in mind is that there are so many needs out there; so many different ways to help using time, money, advocacy, leadership, etc.” Whatever way you can, Pete urges you to find the way that best enables you to get involved.