Annette Sullivan began working at United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region just over two years ago. Currently, she serves as the Executive Assistant and Board Liaison to the President & CEO, Jeannie Montano. Before joining United Way, Annette was an employee of IBM and had a career that spanned 35 years. “Ever since I started at IBM, I donated to United Way. The work of United Way has always interested me,” explains Annette.
One of Annette’s biggest projects since starting at United Way was overseeing the last year’s book drive. Girls on the Run Hudson Valley, one of United Way’s partners, held a book drive in the fall of 2014. The drive was initially only supposed to last until December but they kept receiving more and more. Girls on the Run dropped off the books in mid-June 2015 following their annual 5K where they collected the donations. Much to Annette’s (and everyone’s) surprise, a 15-foot U-Haul truck pulled up to the basement door of United Way. “When they opened the door, there were so many books that they started falling out of the U-Haul!”
Annette was the first one to volunteer to begin to organize and sort through the books, with priority given to to sort through all the children books that had been received. Annette recalls that it was Kimberly Kochem’s, Vice President of Community Impact, idea to organize the books onto shelves in the basement as a “free” library for nonprofits. After that, Annette knew she had to act fast and organize the books quickly.
Annette began arranging and supervising groups of volunteers to begin organizing the books so they could go out into the community into the hands of eager children!
To date, there have been 46 agencies that have picked up books and over 8,000 books have been given away! Books have been donated to Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women, The Mediation Center, Nubian Directions and many other places. While mostly children books were donated, United Way has received a lot of books for adults as well. “We’ve gotten some really fun cooking books, books about the military and even medical encyclopedias. It’s very fascinating to see what others people’s interests are just by looking at the books that were donated,” Annette explains.
During the whole book drive, Annette recognizes that it was truly a team effort. “It was all hands on deck and we worked together as a team!”
Annette attributes her passion for the book drive based on her love of reading. “I could spend hours down in the basement just looking and reading through all the different books that we have.”
Before she started working at United Way, Annette volunteered with Literacy Connections. Through Literacy Connections, Annette was able to share her love of reading through volunteering and teaching adults to read.
Besides reading, Annette also spends her time gardening. She finds herself gardening from spring to fall and finds it relaxing. Aside from that, Annette also makes her own jewelry and can often be found wearing her designs in the office!
Spending the majority of her life in Dutchess County, Annette finds it rewarding to work in a place where the work directly impacts where she lives. She really enjoyed the Hudson Valley Seed Project in Beacon. The past two Aprils, she volunteered to be the project’s site leader during National Volunteer Week and with several volunteers, they built flower beds, planted bulbs, and raked the grounds of a Beacon elementary school. “Living in Beacon and being able to take part in a project that was going on right near my home was very rewarding. It was great to have an opportunity to help out in my own backyard!”
To learn what volunteer opportunities await you, visit volunteer.uwdor.org.
—Clare O’Keefe, Spring 2016 Marketing and Communications Intern, Mount Saint Mary College ‘17