For a long time, I didn’t really like United Way. I wasn’t a part of it. I didn’t get into it. I am a blunt, to-the-point guy. I am a bean counter. United Way didn’t seem up my alley. Then I heard about the Buddy Backpack program. It blows my mind and breaks my heart that so many local children are suffering from hunger over the weekends. This program is near and dear to me. Employees at my companies often volunteer to pack the meal kits as well as deliver them. Turns out, I’ve got a pretty soft heart, especially when it comes to hungry children.

I became involved with Buddy Backpacks as a volunteer and was recruited to join the United Way of Northeastern Minnesota (UWNEMN) board of directors. As I became more and more involved, the more I realized that this is a top-notch nonprofit organization, directly serving the needs of people in our local communities. They run a lean, well-run, financially responsible organization – one I am now proud to lead this year as the board of directors president.

Fundraising is incredibly important to UWNEMN. Without donations coming in to support programs like Buddy Backpacks, Imagination Library, United for Veterans as well as the UWNEMN member agencies/nonprofit organizations, they will not exist. When employees in my companies donate to UWNEMN, we as owners have a matching system to encourage giving and maximize their support. I want my employees to know that I support UWNEMN and I support them in their United Way giving.

I am looking forward to starting this year of board leadership. It is and will be an honor for me to serve at the helm of this great organization. When you see me out golfing this summer, talk to me about UWNEMN and Buddy Backpacks. This organization has accomplished so much and they are just getting started. There is so much more to come!

Paul Janssen

Board President

UWNEMN

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