Recognizing long-time volunteer Kris Falconer and his commitment to United Way Bay Area
As part of our Centennial Celebration, United Way Bay Area is pleased to recognize exceptional people who helped us create a century of impact. Today, UWBA continues this important work as we chart the path forward for the next one hundred years. Together we can achieve our mission to dismantle the root causes of poverty and build equitable pathways to prosperity.
Kris Falconer remembers the day his volunteer work with United Way took on a whole new meaning.
“I was at an event telling people what 211* can do for them,” recalls Falconer, “and as I was leaving, a little old woman stopped me and said, ‘Thank you. Thank you so much.’”
The interaction Falconer had that day with someone in need resonated deeply with him. The next morning, as he was driving to work, Falconer reflected on his own good fortune and on those he was helping. He remembered the woman and how good her kind words made him feel. Questions came to mind: Did she have a safe place to sleep and enough to eat? He went to the office with a sense of purpose, knowing he was making a difference in the lives of others.
Falconer first became involved with United Way through a Workplace Fundraiser. He started giving at work, and soon got involved with his employer’s United Way Committee, a fundraising group dedicated to spreading the word about United Way throughout the organization. In 2010, he volunteered at United Way as an advocate and spokesperson for 211.
Later, when Falconer began planning for retirement, he thought about other ways he could help the community. His financial advisor suggested he consider planned giving, in Falconer’s case, by naming United Way as the beneficiary of his life insurance policy.
“When I signed the policy, I suddenly had a great feeling inside. I thought ‘This is just great. After I’m gone, part of me will live on in the community to provide help to those who need it.'”
For someone looking to make a difference, the decision about where to invest can seem a little daunting. Thousands of organizations throughout the Bay Area work to address food insecurity, affordable housing, childcare, and a myriad of other needs caused by the high cost of living here.
Falconer chose United Way not only because of his incredible volunteer experience, but also because of United Way’s deep ties and technical expertise in helping the community.
“The United Way is very consistent in its mission and in its ongoing support of community-based resources,” said Falconer. “They go through the effort for me instead of me doing all of the research. United Way makes certain that the resources they’re funding are doing what they say they are doing. This seems to be a consistent story, and I have every faith that United Way will continue to do this for many years.”
Planning for the future and developing a personal legacy well in advance has also helped him personally. Shortly after retirement, Falconer became disabled when a neurological disorder, affecting his ability to walk. Fortunately, his early financial planning moves included long-term care insurance, which he now uses to help with his medical needs. This frees him to focus on helping others, which in turn helps him maintain a sense of community engagement and purpose.
These days Falconer is inspired by the new generation of volunteers and community organizers who, while motivated by their own career aspirations, are dedicated to uplifting the less fortunate. And although there are many ways to get involved locally, Falconer recommends United Way Bay Area because of our commitment and proven track record.
“United Way is in the business of helping people help themselves,” says Falconer.
We are deeply grateful for Falconer’s dedication over the years, as well as his vision, kindness, and care for the community.
View part of our conversation with Kris here