Monday, March 17, 2014

Pay it forward

Many of my readers may be familiar with the concept of “paying it forward,” a term popularized by Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book Pay It Forward.  The idea is to do something to help someone, and instead of them paying back the favor, they pay it forward by helping someone else in need.

The action might be small, such as paying for a tank of gas for someone at the gas station who may need it, or it may be large, such as helping someone buy a plane ticket to get home to their family.  The point is that people will help others as they have been helped, thereby starting a chain of good will.

The concept has been on my mind often lately in light of a recent award I received and the good will that I myself was the recipient of as a student at Randolph Macon College.

On March 14, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce honored me with their 2014 Paradigm Award.  Now in its 22nd year, the annual award honors a local business woman whose leadership and dedication to family, career and the community makes her a strong role model for others. 

While the award is certainly a flattering accolade, the award focuses on the importance of being a strong role model for others, serving to help, support and inspire them just as other people have done for me along the way.  In other words, I need to pay it forward!

At UnitedHealthcare, paying it forward is a part of our culture.  Last year, in Pennsylvania we gave more than $350,000 to organizations such as Bridge Educational Foundation, the YMCA, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, March of Dimes, Team Pennsylvania and others that help build stronger, healthier communities.  Our Pennsylvania employees donated more than 2,000 volunteer hours to help nonprofit organizations.  And as part of our employee giving campaign, pledged more than $325,000, which UnitedHealthcare matched dollar for dollar.

So it’s time for me to pay it forward, too.  I’ve designated the $25,000 charitable gift that accompanies the Paradigm Award to support Leadership Philadelphia, a nonprofit organization which helps connect businesses and professionals with opportunities to serve the community.  Leadership Philadelphia is using a portion of the donation for its “Pay It Forward” campaign and is giving a random group of people who attended the Paradigm Awards luncheon a small amount of cash to complete acts of service and compassion for someone in need without the expectation of personal reward.

As they use the cash to selflessly help others, they are encouraged to share their experiences with Leadership Philadelphia.  I can’t wait to hear their stories, and I hope they will inspire my readers just as they inspire me.

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