Sign me up for updates. Sign up now

Donate Take Action
United Way Blog

Inspirations In Community-Building

One of the best parts of my job is getting to meet inspiring people in communities around the world.

These leaders are passionate, laser-focused on making the biggest difference possible, and willing to bring their time, talents and treasure to United Way’s fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community.

When I was studying to be a social worker, I could not have guessed how my life would be enriched by these champions for a better world. Their hopefulness fuels mine, as we work together for a future that means better lives and more opportunity for people in communities everywhere.

Here are some of those difference-makers:

  • Boy Scout Troop 301, which collected 20 boxes of school supplies for the flooded schools in the wake of Hurricane Harvey
  • The VISTA volunteers that eagerly jump in to tackle any community challenge
  • The university professor and author who left his fortune to the community-building efforts of United Way (never having met us)
  • The more than eight million people who invest in stronger communities with every paycheck through their United Way workplace giving campaign

Another difference-maker that I’ve been honored to get to know is Peter Buffett. Peter’s compassion, perspective and drive to make the world a better place is uplifting. He’s the son of a very famous man, Warren Buffett, yet he’s humble about his place in the world. Peter is a pianist and composer, who’s had great success creating musical scores for movies, including the famous fire dance scene from Dances With Wolves.  

Peter has created an amazing program in which he plays music, talks with the audience about privilege, and challenges them to turn that privilege into a force against society’s most difficult problems. It’s reflective, moving and insightful.

To spur action, Peter and his wife, Jennifer, co-founded the NoVo Foundation, which advocates for girls’ and women’s rights. It’s dedicated to catalyzing a transformation in global society, moving from a culture of domination to one of equality and partnership.

Recently, Peter and I have had several heartfelt conversations – including debating what constitutes human success. If one feels secure in their daily life, has a healthy family, and possesses a sense of purpose, are they more successful than the businessperson with a large home, but no person or community to share it with? Can we be successful beyond the acquisition of material gain? And if so, what would that mean for the traditional workings of society, technological progress, and the institutions that have shaped our lives for centuries?

The two of us share a philosophy, as well as a deep commitment to making the world a better place for all.

Peter and I agree that real change starts with building understanding. When people talk with each other – not at each other – and speak as fellow human beings, we provoke each other in thoughtful, respectful ways. That helps us to see important issues through the eyes of others, allowing us to develop a collective path forward.

Peter is bringing his gifts of music, conversation and insight to United Way and the communities we serve. These Concerts & Conversations with Peter Buffett bring business leaders and philanthropists together to share in Peter’s personal and professional journey, a story that makes the audience think about relationships, community and context, and most importantly, their place in it. Peter initiated these events a few years ago with select business leaders because he wanted to do more than a foundation can do – he wanted to have conversation with people he thought could be doing more.

Now, through our partnership, Peter is expanding the conversation to even more people – bringing his concerts and conversations to 15 U.S. communities, all hosted by United Way. Many events are held on college campuses and include students and other young people.

The five so far – in Crystal City, Va.; Atlanta, Ga.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Columbus, Ohio and Louisville, Ky. – have engaged and inspired audiences. In each, Peter has not only shared his work in areas like human trafficking prevention, but he’s heard about each community’s challenges and seen first-hand the solutions underway, such as the child well-being effort in Atlanta, a Columbus center that offers job training, addiction recovery, after school programs and early education, and much more. Local United Way leaders have reported great enthusiasm from attendees who want to do more to improve their community and become greater difference-makers themselves.

These Concerts & Conversation with Peter Buffett are happening throughout our United Way community across the country. If the concert is in your area, please join us, because change doesn’t happen alone – it takes all of us coming together to create real, long-lasting impact.

For more information, please contact Julie.SillsMolock@uww.unitedway.org.

Inspired by what you read? Change starts with you. Take action today to make a difference in your community.