(Photo by Scott P. Moore)
When Dave Bezaire retired from CompuServe, his departure from the workplace and a workplace campaign didn’t end his desire to give back to his community. In fact, he amped up his volunteering by becoming a United Way Loaned Executive and his giving by being a Cinquefoil member.
As a retiree and a passionate community volunteer, Dave is an independent giver who has called central Ohio home for 35 years. He and his wife, Susi, have been United Way donors since the 1980s. Dave co-chaired CompuServe’s pledge drive in the 1990s and became a United Way Loaned Executive for the 2000 campaign. After retirement in 2001, he continued in that role—which runs for approximately 3 months annually—for six additional years, and jokes he was “on loan” from Susi during that time.
Both Dave and Susi stay extremely busy in retirement with a wide range of interests—including swimming, biking, hiking, ice hockey, scuba diving, sculpture, photography and more—while also dedicating themselves to community service work with a variety of nonprofits. They have supported Habitat for Humanity for nearly 30 years, both in Columbus and several other cities, and have taken volunteer teams to build houses in eight other countries.
“I treat service as a second career. Habitat for Humanity projects that I do address housing—one small slice of the community’s needs,” Dave explains. “United Way helps me feel balanced by also working on the broad range of issues necessary for central Ohio to grow and prosper.”
Because the couple directs their annual gift to United Way’s Community Impact Fund, they are confident their investment goes where it is needed most and that it is effective in addressing those needs.
“We believe United Way uses our investment in the community efficiently and effectively,” Dave says. “While we also support other nonprofits that we know do a good job in areas we are passionate about, we rely on the professionals at United Way to assess broader needs and allocate our funds accordingly.”
While Dave and Susi enjoy the city’s extensive and rich culture, education and entertainment, as well as its efforts to be inclusive and accepting of all people, they’re aware of areas where opportunities for more progress still exist. Dave points out that our community can’t afford the low high school graduation rates that exist in parts of the city and that we must find ways to make health care accessible for all, particularly to reduce the high rates of infant mortality in some neighborhoods. He knows United Way shares his concerns and is hard at work every day addressing them.
“United Way does far more than just raise and distribute funds,” he says. “Through advocacy, volunteer coordination, collecting data and analyzing needs, collaboration among business, government and agency leaders, and a laser focus on tackling the root causes of poverty, United Way brings us together to make central Ohio a better place for everyone to live, thrive and grow.”