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Why I pressed pause on my government job to work for United Way

6 MIN READ

For nearly 30 years, Larry Hogan has used his information technology and logistics skills in his role at Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to help improve the lives of residents across the country through programs like the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security.  

As he approached retirement, Larry began thinking, “what’s next?” He had volunteered throughout his life, so he thought the non-profit sector might be a good fit. 

When United Way East Ontario’s Loaned Representative program landed in his inbox, he knew it was an opportunity he wanted to explore. Larry’s employer supported this unique opportunity for professional development, and in the spring of 2022, Larry joined our Strategic Partnerships team as a Manager of Business Development for a one-year secondment.  

Throughout his time at United Way, Larry’s positive attitude and talent for collaboration left a mark on countless people he came in contact with.  

Loaned representatives like Larry are “loaned” out to United Way for a predetermined amount of time, but they continue to be employed and paid by their workplace.

“Larry has been such a gift to United Way. He’s brought a wealth of skills developed over his career to help us deliver positive change for the community. It’s been a real pleasure to be able to channel his passion for helping others into the work we do.” 

We knew that we wanted to sit down with Larry to learn more about his experience. On his last day, we did just that: 

1) What made you want to apply to United Way’s Loaned Representative (LR) program? How did you hear about it?  

A couple of years ago an email came through to all of us at ESDC. I knew that I was coming up to the end of my career in the government, and I wanted to pursue what I was going to do to keep me busy after I retired. Because I can’t just stop, anyone who retires can’t just stop.  
 
I’ve always volunteered, mainly related to sports, but I wanted to find out what else was out there. I knew of United Way through work because of the GCWCCI’d worked on those campaigns in the past. At that time I thought the opportunity would be great for networking, because I knew United Way partners with a lot of different nonprofits in Ottawa. So whether I got an opportunity with United Way or got introduced to another organization, it seemed like a step in the right direction. 
 
My bosses couldn’t let me go at that time because it was fairly tight timing, but they promised that in a year, it’d be something they could support. So in the meantime, I did my due diligence and transferred some knowledge to a colleague, and finally, the time came. So I would like to thank my Director and the Executive at ESDC/Service Canada for giving me this opportunity. I’m sure they would agree, United Way is a very important part of the community and I’m sure they appreciate how I was able to help support the work being done. 
 
I lucked out with the job I applied for, I seemed to just fit right into my position. We pursue new relationships, coordinate sponsorships, and run events, but I was on the logistics side of the partnerships, not sales, which was ideal for me because I’m not a sales guy. I was happy to be behind the scenes, helping events run smoothly.  

2) What will you remember most about your time here? 

I’m lucky in a way that I found a career that I really enjoy, but a lot of people go to work with the mentality of “oh, it’s your job you gotta go in, you gotta do it”. But I find that it’s not that type of attitude here.  
 
The dedication that these people have and how right they are for their jobs—I say these people, I’ve been here for a year, so I should say us. I come in and get the sense that people love their jobs, they want to do what they do. It appears that way, at least! Sure they’re getting paid, but they want to because they enjoy it, and they want to give back to the community. And this is maybe why they’re at United Way.  
 
My manager—he was my mentor. I saw the passion and the ideas he came up with and how he engaged the community. Put simply, the people are the biggest thing. I was amazed by them and what they do for the organization, and then of course what United Way does for the community.

3) Was there anything unexpected about your experience? 

When I started, I only knew of United Way from our charitable campaigns with the government, so I didn’t have the lens of what else goes on and the different areas that United Way touches—all the ways that they’re involved in the community, and creative ways they generate revenue. Things like Women United, Community Builder Awards, GenNext Mix & Mingles, all those different initiatives and events—I had no idea they were United Way.  

I don’t think people realize the amount of work that this organization does. The general population probably doesn’t know what goes on behind the scenes. It’s kind of a paradox of how big this organization is, but also how small it is. There’s a lot that gets done by this group, but there’s so much that goes on that they could double in size and still have work to do.  

Larry and the Resource Development team at his farewell lunch

 4) Can you share some highlights of projects you were involved in? 

I enjoyed all of the projects I worked on during my time here, but the highlight that I’m hoping for is that I was able to bring something to the organization. I do have many years of experience in the volunteer sector and in the government, so I was ready to share my project management and logistics skills and hopefully I was able give back.  

But again, I really found the right position. If I were to come back, this is where I’d want to be. I say that I’m more of a logistics person than a salesperson, but I do love talking to the people—like the participants in the golf tournament or Move for Youth for example. The are so many people that are willing to give back. When I engage with them I feel proud that I’ve had this chance to work with United Way.

5) What would you say to other public servants who are considering the Loaned Representative program as an opportunity? 

This is a great opportunity to give back to your community, but also refresh yourself and get a different mindset. In any job, if you’re in the grind for 30 years and only focused on that job, take a break. If you get this opportunity, take it, because it’s an eye opener. You will see what this organization does for the community.  

Whether it’s through United Way’s LR program or just on a volunteer basis on evenings and weekends, get involved with these charities. Help them out, because they need the help. You can give money, but if you live it, you understand it a lot better. And that’s what happened with me. 

I will be doing something in the community after I retire—what exactly I still don’t know. But now that I’ve had this opportunity and I have the connections, I can picture myself coming back. Either through volunteering or even a part time job. 

 6) What did you learn at United Way that you will take back to your place of work?

Everybody needs a living wage to support themselves, buy food, rent their apartment, or pay their mortgage. Here, what I’ve noticed, the number one priority isn’t a paycheque, it’s to do the best you can to help the community, implement programs, and raise the funds to support those programs. 
 
This kind of thinking is at the core of everything we do in the public service, we support Canadians as well. We’re a bit further away from the client than United Way, but our job is to provide social benefits to the public—it’s all about the people. I’ve always had this type of outlook in life, but my time at United Way just emphasized that.  
 
And of course, promoting volunteering and getting involved in your community. When you see what’s out there and begin talking to people, you get to learn so much about the difficulties in the community and what people are doing to address those issues.

7) Is there anything you’d like to say to the people who work at United Way? 

I thank them for this opportunity. I had the ulterior motive of trying to figure out what I’d like to do after I retire, but coming here, learning about what United Way does, has been amazing. It’s been amazing to see everyone’s dedication and passion behind what they do. 
 
If a department can support it—loaning someone out for a full year—to me this is the perfect timeframe. You get to be useful because you have time to integrate and get a good sense of the work. This can be at any stage of someone’s career, for me it just so happens to be closer to retirement. When you think of someone’s full time in the government—usually 30 to 35 years—one year is not a long time. But one year would make a huge impact for the work United Way is doing. 

Learn about Viran, who joined United Way as a Project and Research Manager on a one-year secondment, three years into his career at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED).  

Viran Daluwatte
Come work with us! See what secondment opportunities are available.
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