As the CEO of Brown-Forman, one of the areaâ€™s major employers and one of the worldâ€™s top producers and distributors of global distilled spirits, Paul Varga is a very busy man. But he makes time to serve our community and is doing so, by stepping into the critical role of 2013 annual campaign chair for Metro United Way. As he explains, this is a way for him to seize the opportunity to help improve lives for the successful future of everyone in Louisville.
LORI KOMMOR: Because you grew up in Louisville, is it important for you to give back to the community?
VARGA: My educational foundation was formed and established in Louisville, as well as my sense of leadership and love of family, so I know a lot about the people here as well as the business community.Â Iâ€™m incredibly proud of all of our community members â€“ individuals, organizations and our business community – for realizing that we are all interconnected, dependent on each other for the success of our community.Â Itâ€™s an inspiration to see everyone working together to make a differenceÂ because we all win when a child succeeds in school, when a neighborhood turns around, when families have good health and when workers have solid jobs.Â Iâ€™m happy to join in.
KOMMOR: In what ways do you see Metro United Way impacting the community?
VARGA: Well, a community of connected people â€“ all people â€“ united and working together for the benefit of all is at the heart of what Metro United Way represents.Â First and foremost, I believeÂ theirÂ focus on education, specifically kindergarten readiness and high school graduation,Â is the cornerstone of individual and community success because we all have a stake in making sure that todayâ€™s children grow up to be productive citizens who give back to our community.Â To have strong communities, to develop a skilled workforce, to compete in the global economy and so on, we have to focus our energies on those areas that will lead to significant, lasting change.Â Metro United Way leads the way in these ambitious goals in order to reach their vision of a community whose people achieve their fullest potential through education, financial stability and healthy livesÂ -Â the building blocks for a good quality of life.Â This is obviously something that we all should be committed to.
KOMMOR: Metro United Wayâ€™s mission is to improve lives in our community by engaging people to give, advocate and volunteer.Â Why are you drawn to be a volunteer for their work?
Â VARGA: Coming together to volunteer is one of the best ways to connect heads, hearts and hands around Metro United Wayâ€™s work to create lasting change.Â Itâ€™s also a great way for people to meet new people, learn new skills, gain work experience, and most importantly, help make a difference in someoneâ€™s life. Metro United Way recruits people and organizations from across the community who bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done; itâ€™s as simple as sharing your time and talent to make change happen.Â And from a corporate perspective, employee volunteerism offers a great return in increasing employee engagement, teamwork, retention, skills and community knowledge.
KOMMOR: What factors played a role in taking on this challenge as annual campaign chair for Metro United Way?
VARGA: I believe itâ€™s important to support Metro United Wayâ€™s focus on education through results-driven, evidence-based practices because studies show that quality education leads to better income and a healthier life.Â I know that, together, we can impact the quality of life for everyone in our community.Â When our children are ready for kindergarten and stay on track to graduation, they are better prepared for the future and to contribute to our community.Â When families have the tools to be financially independent, neighborhoods become stronger, our schools improve and our businesses prosper.Â When the needs of individuals are met, we are healthier, more financially stable, our kids do better in school and our community thrives. These three issues are interconnected and affect each and every one of us.
KOMMOR: Each year, the Metro United Way annual campaign chairman works to build awareness of the great work that Metro United Way leads for our community.Â How do you plan to reinforce this in the corporate community?
VARGA: Iâ€™m confident that business leaders and many members of the corporate community know that Metro United Way leads integrated action with partners across sectors, focusing resources in the areas of education, income and health so that we can make a difference on root causes of social problems and advance the common good.
In the end, we reach our mutual goals by working together â€“ by working with dozens of other agencies, hundreds of companies, and thousands of citizens all across this community.Â By recruiting people to the cause, getting commitments for action and connecting expertise and systems with the resources that get things done, Metro United Way is creating opportunities for a better life for all of us.
When everyone has the opportunity to achieve their fullest potential, the benefits ripple throughoutÂ the entire community.Â And this is why in Metro United Wayâ€™s annual campaign this year; we ask that you give one more dollar.Â Bring one more person into the conversation.Â Volunteer one more hour of your time – because everyone counts.