Chad Wilson has a history with the United Way that runs parallel with his successful work with Publix Supermarkets here in Central Florida. Stretching back to his time as a part-time associate, the United Way has worked hand-in-hand with Publix to help families in the area in a relationship that has only grown over the years. Chad is now a district manager with Publix Super Markets and Board Member with Heart of Florida United Way.
Tell us about your long history with the United Way?
“Working with Publix you start out having a history with United Way. As long as I’ve been with Publix, Publix has been with United Way. My personal feelings are that Publix wanted to ensure we were playing a part in promoting healthy communities where we were doing business, and even as a young part-time associate I had the chance to start learning. The more I got into leadership, the more opportunities I had to work with United Way and understand its role in the community. I learned that United Way’s goals were my goals. My associates also understand United Way wants to take care of the community in the same kind of way we take care of our customers.”
What drew you to the mission? Why United Way?
“It’s really amazing when you see so many people who are focused on doing the right thing. When you grow up within a company that truly exemplifies it’s trying to do the right thing, it’s easy to gravitate to those agencies. Instead of doing agency tours, we took a small film crew and I got to go to eight different agencies. It was amazing to see the breadth of programs that are helping those who are visually impaired, helping those who were afflicted with AIDS, and more.”
What is a particular memory you have when thinking about your relationship with the two organizations?
“In 2004, I got a phone call from one of my associates, a single mom with two young daughters whose apartment got condemned after taking damage from a hurricane. She was staying day-to-day in a motel with these kids and she had run out of cash. She was on the street when she called. The relationships that I had developed with the United Way leadership came into play. I called and not long after we got her into a women’s shelter where they stayed until she got back on her feet. They put her on a financial training program, taught her financial literacy, and an all-encompassing program to not only take on this issue, but to ensure they didn’t face these challenges again. We found her a rent-controlled apartment she could afford, furniture from Mustard Seed, and she was able to be healthy and happy, and finish raising her kids because of United Way.”
How do you “Live United”? What do you hope for and why?
“My father taught me ‘Just say yes and then figure out how to do it.’ Publix has given me the opportunity to make impacts in a bunch of different areas. It would have been very easy to sit back and not push myself, but at the same time, life would have been a little bit boring. Being with all of these individuals on the Board, it will push me to strive harder, learn more and make a bigger impact, not just in my own career, but in the city where I live and where my children are raising theirs. I have a brand new granddaughter. This is a new generation we’re looking at and it gives us new perspective.”
How do you keep perspective? Do you have a favorite quote or mantra that keeps you centered?
I love to read the poem “Desiderata” – the whole thing is applicable throughout your life.