A Journey from Donor to Vice Chair of United Way of Broward County



For this month’s spotlight on one of our Board members, we asked Vice Chair Kevin Purvis to describe his many years of experience with United Way of Broward County — his initial motivations for getting involved, his passion for our mission and his long commitment to the betterment of our community.

Kevin-Purvis_Head%20shot%20square.jpgWithout question, I am continually inspired by United Way of Broward County. The impact we make on a daily basis amazes me, and I became involved with our great organization 15 years ago.

My passion in helping build communities and supporting people who are underserved was instilled because of the value of my grandparents and parents. My grandparents lived in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1950s, which at the time was a focal point for the civil rights movement.

My grandparents were on the frontlines bringing racial equity and ending discrimination, and I am very proud of all they accomplished . Their heroism and courage in supporting the disenfranchised made an indelible impression on me. Also, my grandparents and parents were life-long supporters of their local United Way.

When my parents moved to Fort Lauderdale, they carried with them the legacy of community involvement. My entry into philanthropy was much more modest. I started making small donations to United Way of Broward County — and at the time, I thought it was the least I could do to support the community where I live.

Kevin%20Purvis.jpegHowever, while my donations may not compare to what my grandparents achieved, I have realized every donation — however small — makes incredible differences to so many people. United Way of Broward County has a history of transparency with the contributions it generates, and as a donor then and now, I appreciate this transparency because it is important to know how my dollars are being spent.

Once I reviewed this information, I had a very clear understanding of how my donations were making a difference, and I immediately was impressed by the depth and extent of the overall impact. My research also made me aware of the many problems people in our community face — problems that were unknown to me at the time.

Having a better understanding of the complexities and hardships in our community motivated me to become a volunteer, and initially I started in the Young Leaders Society, which has evolved into the NextGen United affinity group.

Being a part of United Way of Broward County’s affinity groups is so powerful because I got connected to many like-minded, passionate people. I learned even more about the great needs in our community and the monumental differences our United Way can make. Pretty quickly, I became the chairman within this group of young volunteers.

In my time as a volunteer, I realized our United Way’s potential for influence is massive — and examples include improving educational opportunities for elementary-school students, reducing and eliminating homelessness, creating access to healthcare, forming and shaping public policy at the local and state level and even making changes improving people’s lives at the national level.

324245074_517378660221102_3678936910626609363_n.jpgThe more I learned about our impact, the more inspired I became, and eventually served as the chairperson for United Way’s Public Policy and Advocacy Committee.

I was involved with United Way when we established the three pillars of our mission — education health and financial prosperity. Education means the most to me because education is the foundation for long-term health and prosperity, and it has a multigenerational impact. I think of education as a compounding investment in the future.

One of my more memorable experiences was visiting our Gulfstream Community Partnership School — and what a phenomenal program. I went to Gulfstream with Senator Shevrin Jones as part of our Public Policy and Advocacy Committee, and we wanted to experience first-hand what happens at the school on a daily basis.

The sense of community and dedication at Gulfstream is palpable, and the outstanding asset that I noticed is how well the school integrates and supports the entire family with education, healthcare and social services for both students and adults. It truly is a community center fostering stable households.

Overall, I believe we have the best United Way from top to bottom in the U.S. We influence other United Ways, and the success of MISSION UNITED is an example. MISSION UNITED started at United Way of Broward County 10 years ago, and now it has expanded to state and national levels. Also, our United Way was one of the early adopters and proponents of the ALICE Report. Our teams are on the frontline of launching programs that are improving the lives of millions of people.

I give full credit for United Way’s success to our leadership team. President and CEO Kathleen Cannon is a great leader — very personable, very passionate and committed, and very knowledgeable about operations, stakeholders and the intricacies of Broward County.

And of course, the Board members have been critical to our great organization. The Board is comprised of people who have full-time jobs and who are leaders at their own organizations, and they still work as volunteers for United Way. The care and commitment they have for Broward County is extraordinary.

353404038_645592117615068_6165258797829908054_n.jpgI am extremely proud to be a part of United Way of Broward County. In addition to being the current vice chair of the Board of Directors and donating time, I continue to make financial donations, specifically as a member of the Alexis de Tocqueville Society.

It’s funny to think my journey started by making a single, small donation. Once I got involved, my passion and commitment multiplied exponentially—and it’s because I directly saw the many long-lasting, positive changes United Way has delivered to thousands of people in our community.

Get active, become inspired with United Way of Broward County!