Univera Serve First Changes Lives in 2015

Univera Serve First® had a hugely successful 2015 with events throughout the US and Canada that helped address the nutritional needs of many at-risk children worldwide. The first Univera Serve First 5K in Tacoma helped provide 81,611 meals alone with proceeds donated to the F.I.S.H. Food Banks. Annie, a FISH customer, describes the impact of donations like these on her life:

“Unfortunately, this year has been intensely challenging for us. My children and I are deeply thankful for the delivery of the spirit of community and the spirit of new friends in the midst of complexity and devastations. Our family has already lost so much. Your outpouring of generosity and compassion from the community is a healing symbol of hope, care and a sense of support to ensure our family has food. Your graciousness is nourishment feeding our hearts and soul.”

Annie’s story is not unique. According to FISH Food Banks, “40% of FISH Food Banks’ customers are children ages 0 – 18. That means we served well over 200,000 client visits from children last year. It’s a heartbreaking number, but because of the generosity of our community and supportive organizations like Univera Serve First, we are able to meet the need.”

A Univera Serve First 5K runner crosses the finish line in Tacoma.
A Univera Serve First 5K runner crosses the finish line in Tacoma.

Our Associates are recognizing those needs throughout the US and Canada. In addition to the Univera Serve First 5K, spearheaded by Diamond Associate Suzan Zeiger, other events were organized by Univera Associates. Here are just a few.

  • The Walla Walla Wine Walk (Washington) in September raised $5,000. Organized by Platinum Associate Edie Johnson, it benefitted Univera Serve First and its overall mission.
  • Benefit Concert at Shedd Institute in Eugene, Oregon, was organized by Executive Associate Curt Masterson (who also performed). It raised $10,000 with its October 16 performance. Judging from the picture of the concert below, it looks like it was an amazing evening.
Benefit Concert at the Shedd Institute
Benefit Concert at the Shedd Institute
Bea's Kids, Dallas, Texas
Bea’s Kids, Dallas, Texas

Another popular event which has become an annual tradition is the Univera Serve First Talent Show which was held during Univera Convention 2015 this year. The ballroom of the Tacoma Convention Center was bustling that afternoon with the wonderful entertainment provided by Univera Associates. Hosted by Blue Diamond Associates Bob & Renate Lundberg and produced by Univera Associate Kimmer Goldblatt, it raised approximately $8,000 for Univera Serve First’s mission. You can see from the pictures below, even Univera Chairman Bill Lee joined in.

Univera Serve First Talent Show
Univera Serve First Talent Show
Univera Serve First Talent Show
Univera Serve First Talent Show

Through these fundraising occasions and many others, Associates raised over $78,000 for Univera Serve First. With matching donations from Univera, these events impressively raised over $156,000.

While these events are a wonderful opportunity for Associates to make a difference in their communities, their ongoing support of Univera Serve First also impacts children globally. For eight years, Univera Serve First has partnered with Vitamin Angels®, whose mission is to “help at-risk populations in need – specifically pregnant women, new mothers, and children under five – gain access to lifesaving and life changing vitamins and minerals.”

One aspect of that partnership is an annual trip for Associates and Corporate staff to see the work of Vitamin Angels first-hand. This year’s trip, to Nicaragua, took place in May. Associates Kimmer Goldblatt, Bob and Renate Lundberg, and Jordan Monroe were invited to travel with Univera Serve First President Ralph Bietz and Univera Serve First Managing Director Tana Whelan, and Vitamin Angels representatives Catarina Sales and Phoebe Hitchman to see Vitamin Angels at work.

© Matt Dayka / Vitamin Angels 2015
2015 Nicaragua Trip, © Matt Dayka / Vitamin Angels 2015

Each traveler reflected on their trip before and after, and their stories are found on the Univera Serve First website. A common reflection was how the trip really brought their work and donations to life. As Kimmer Goldblatt expressed, “One personal moment that I will never forget was the way one of the moms looked at me when she realized I saw her for the sweet caring person, loving mom and wife who embraces her life with all her heart. We both smiled deeply into each other’s eyes.”

© Matt Dayka / Vitamin Angels 2015
© Matt Dayka / Vitamin Angels 2015

Univera Serve First isn’t satisfied though; they are seeking to help even more children. On the trip to Nicaragua, they were able to connect with Feed the Children and have been working on a growing partnership with them since.  They are also developing an on-going vitamin project in Mexico with an orphanage called Las Rosas Rojas.

To see a full listing of organizations Univera Serve First has donated to either with financial or product donations, see the Partnerships page of their website.

If you would like to be a part of Univera Serve First’s mission, there are several ways to get involved.

  • Associates and Customers can donate on their Convenience Plan or as a one-time donation through Univera.com. Information about how these donations work is on the Univera Serve First
  • To organize an event, email Univera Serve First Managing Director Tana Whelan at twhelan@univera.com.
  • And, keep an eye out to support events near you.

For additional information about Univera Serve First®, check out their website at ServeFirst.org.

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