Who is United Way? Well, it seems to me United Way is a lot of fun and caring people who have come together to make a difference in our community. Most of these people have paired their jobs with their ability to bring something new and useful to the United Way. They use their skills to further United Way’s progress towards helping our community. Some, though, take it a step further.
Meet Abby Desboro. Abby doesn’t just combine her job-skills of her current job with United Way. Her job is United Way.
“I discovered the United Way at a young leaders meeting. Danielle (Isbell, Resource Development Director) started talking about it and was looking for a marketing committee. I was like, ‘Hey! That’s what I do!’ So, I started volunteering for the United Way in a marketing capacity and just fell in love with the mission and the direction the organization was going and what they were doing for our community. Using my skill set to promote that, (I) worked that into a full-time job.”
She’s very excited as she explains how she came to work for United Way. There is passion behind her words, but it is expressed in her through her ability to explain everything in fun and engaging ways. She explains like this for things like United Way and her family home.
I ask Abby to tell me a story about growing up in the Wabash Valley. She tells me about how she thought that living on a farm and in the country was normal. It didn’t really dawn on her until college that not everyone has the same experience of growing up in the country with only a few neighbors that knew every detail about your life.
“It was really comical when I brought my best friend from college, who was from San Francisco, and I brought her home from college. We’re driving down 63 and, no joke, there was a cow in the middle of the road. I mean that doesn’t happen all the time, but she thought it was hilarious. I was like, ‘Why is Bessie in the middle of the road?’ ‘Abby you know who this cow is?’ ‘Well, yeah, it’s the neighbor’s cow, and why is it in the middle of the road?’ She is just like, ‘This is ridiculous.’ Not everybody has a life like this. I kind of forget that sometimes.” Her laugh is sweet, and it makes me smile. Marketing was a good choice for someone who can talk about anything with passion and excitement, even cows standing in the middle of the road.
Every question I give Abby is answered with detail and energy that I can’t even dream of until I’ve drunk two cups of coffee.
“So, tell me about your family.”
“I’ve been married to my husband for almost five years. We met on Match.com. So, we are all about online dating and the new millennium.” Most people would be shy to admit that, but again Abby shows her passion for the world around her. She even goes on to explain that experience.
“It was a really funny story. When I moved back all of my friends were married… It was really hard to make those connections, but then my husband ends up knowing half of my friends already. We find like these tangled webs of, ‘Oh well you know this person through this person? I know that person.’”
Calling her husband a “transplant Hautian”, she tells me he came to ISU from Indianapolis and never wanted to leave. Now they have a three-year-old daughter.
“We call Claire, Claire-bear. Sometimes to make it even shorter, we just call her bear. Dave said he was at the grocery store the other night and said, ‘Bear come here.’ He said some lady just went, ‘Did you just call her a bear?’ like really confused. I mean its just a nickname, but yeah we literally call our daughter Bear.” She laughs and it makes me smile.
It’s easy to smile around Abby Desboro. It’s infectious and heartwarming. Some of that energy rubs off onto you when you are around her, and when you leave her presence it’s no surprise you feel like you can take on all the challenges of the world if you try hard enough. Which is why it makes sense that putting together the first two-day Serve the Valley event, in lieu of the original Day of Service which was just one day, is her favorite project she’s been involved in with United Way.
“To see another organization that was wanting to do the same thing, coming together, and then blowing every record we’ve ever had out of the water… being able to see all those volunteers coming together was really cool.”
Just how did that first Serve the Valley startup and what is it?
I’ll walk you through those days and how Abby worked with others to make it happen.