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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

SJVC employee takes leadership role for United Way of Fresno Co.

July 3, 2013
After years of volunteer work, Sue has finally been named Chairman of the Board for the Fresno chapter.

Ten years of volunteering for the United Way of Fresno County has positioned SJVC’s own Sue Smilie-Janecek for an eventual position as Chairman of the Board for this local chapter. Smilie-Janecek assumed the reins on July 1st to begin her 2-year term.

When Sue was first introduced to the local United Way, she was struck by the scope of the United Way’s commitment to and ability to help others. “I was so impressed at what they were trying to do to improve the quality of life for people in our community,” says Smilie-Janecek, who is San Joaquin Valley College’s Director of Research and Development.

Over the years Smilie-Janecek has fulfilled many roles for United Way, including service on the Executive Committee, Secretary of the Board of Directors (two 2-year terms) and Vice Chair. In these roles Sue has provided hard work and leadership in the United Way’s Toys for Tots annual campaigns, live theatre production fundraisers – including 2011’s Shep’s Christmas Wish, which she produced.

During her time here at SJVC, Sue Smilie-Janecek has been the first to bring the college staff and students into United Way fundraising activities and events, which have benefitted both SJVC and this well-known community service provider. Our students have been both volunteers and recipients of the United Way’s many community program provisions. An example is the United Way’s Day of Caring, during which they organize hundreds of volunteers to provide services to the community, such as house repair/painting, garden planting, animal enclosure repair at the zoo and visits to patients in local hospitals.

United Way’s 211 phone line connection, which handles non-life threatening emergencies, and Sparkpoint Center, a free community outreach program, are two community resources that provide assistance to hundreds of people throughout Fresno County. Supported by fundraisers, the 211 call line helps with emergencies such as home eviction, emergency food rations and social service issues. The Sparkpoint Center provides free services to those who meet lower income criteria, such as establishing a banking relationship, assisting with filing income tax returns and providing mortgage counseling.

“The United Way’s Mission Statement to ‘improve quality of life in our community’ says it all,” says Smilie-Janecek. Her new responsibilities as Chairman of the Board put her in a position to help focus attention on their three primary areas of community impact: educational opportunities, access to healthcare and increasing income.

“The staff and Board are very excited about Sue taking over during the next two years,” says Michael Alexander, President and CEO of United Way of Fresno County. “We are looking forward to her leadership and community connections, as she takes on the role as Chairman, working with the staff, Board and community partners to improve the lives of the people living in Fresno County.”