Twenty-three years ago, as the young CEO of the American Red Cross in Monroe County, I met a very nice lady named Connie Carroll.
She was the Associate Director of United Way of Monroe County at the time. As the director of a nonprofit agency, I worked closely with her and with the United Way of Monroe County. For many years, I was chair of the United Way’s agency directors group, leading United Way’s campaigns for the nonprofit sector. Connie was always cheerful, kind, humorous and extremely helpful in guiding our agency group. In 2008, she became executive director of the United Way of Monroe County and continued to help for a total of 25 years.
As Executive Director, Connie’s passion for helping the underserved populations of Monroe County and then Lenawee County has always been on full display. She was always an advocate for the oppressed and she loved working with a wide variety of non-profit organizations with many different but important missions. At each Centraide event, she introduced each agency director, remembering their names and those of their staff present! To know Connie is to know how emotional she was about caring for others. Raising funds to help as many people as she could, she was a beacon of hope for many. She worked tirelessly and could often be seen at many community events on weeknights and weekends. Personally, I’ve spent A LOT of time with Connie, and I’m always entertained!
Connie was already a dear friend to me when United Way Board members (and Connie) asked me to become the Associate Director of United Way of Monroe/Lenawee Counties in March 2018. I had spent 28 years with the American Red Cross and 3 years as Executive Director of Catherine Cobb Safe House/Family Counseling and Children’s Services in Lenawee County, working closely with United Way along the way. After almost 20 years of knowing Connie as a colleague, I came to work for her! We partnered to cover Monroe and Lenawee counties, me primarily in Lenawee county. By working more directly with Connie, I could see how big her heart is in making sure ALL have the opportunity to have a good life. She works closely with all sectors to not only raise funds, but also to raise awareness of the needs of underserved people in both counties. Behind the scenes, she is a constant advocate, making sure the voiceless get a voice. She directly answers many phone calls herself asking for help and really tries to steer the unmet need in the right direction. Sometimes there is no resource, only Connie’s kind words of support and encouragement for that voice on the other end of the line. As a boss, she always puts the needs of her staff before her own. A real servant.
Connie is retiring on June 30. She will be greatly missed in her current role, but knowing Connie, she will always be a force for advocacy and the underserved in the community. She can’t help it! We held an open house for her retirement on Tuesday June 14th and over 300 people came out to say goodbye to our beloved Connie.
For me, I will miss our early morning and late day calls on my way to and from Adrian. His encouragement, support AND humor kept me entertained for many miles between Adrian and Monroe. I will have very big shoes to put on from July, that’s for sure!
Each year, United Way funds 25 Monroe County local agency programs. They also sponsor countywide 2-1-1 services and coordinate Project Ramp, 4 annual health check events, and the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP). All funds raised in Monroe County stay in Monroe County. For more information on GIVING AND LIVING UNITED, contact us! Call us at 734-242-1331, contact us for an appointment at our office: 216 N. Monroe St., Monroe, MI 48161. You can visit our website at www.unitedwayMLC.org. Or you can contact me at [email protected]
Laura Schultz Pipis is the Associate Director of United Way of Monroe/Lenawee Counties.