Tocqueville Member Spotlight: Carol and Andy Winig

Raising two young daughters and caring for an elderly father while managing two challenging careers, Carol and Andy Winig are the proverbial “meat in the middle” of the sandwich generation.   More than anything else, their growing family has shaped how they practice philanthropy.  For Carol, the things she’s passionate about are a reflection of where she is in her life. “My dad is 90 and he lives with us.  I think about someone like my father who doesn’t have a daughter to rely on – how challenging that would be.”  When her two daughters came along, things really changed: “When I had my children, I became acutely interested in children’s well-being – I couldn’t bear the thought of a child who was hungry or didn’t have a safe place to sleep.”

Carol was introduced to philanthropy by her parents as a child.  The lessons she learned stayed with her through her student years at Boston College and beyond.  Then, when she was first starting her career, Carol felt fortunate to have found a company, Ernst and Young, that supported and encouraged her philanthropic interests.  “All of the Big 4 consulting firms are supporters of United Way.  I’ve been giving since I started 30 years ago.   EY’s motto is ‘building a better working world’, and they truly mean it.  Giving back is not just something that’s nice to do, it’s important – we need to take care of the community that we live in.  When we recruit people, they always ask about community service and how that part of their lives will be supported at work.”

One of the reasons Carol and Andy have stayed so connected to United Way over the years is that “There’s something for us at every life stage – as both donors and volunteers.” When they wanted to pass along their values to their two daughters, United Way provided a perfect opportunity for them to do that.  “What I love about United Way, aside from all the great work they do, is that it has really allowed us to teach the girls about the importance of giving back,”  says Carol: “at 9 and 10 years old, it’s hard to find age-appropriate giving and volunteer opportunities that actually mean something to them on a personal level.   With United Way, the way the events are created, it really helps the kids understand that their efforts are helping actual people – the lines are very clear to them.”

Even in small ways, kids learn that their contributions are important: “We all love the Thanksgiving project.  The kids come home exhausted but are so happy they did it, and they are asking the tough questions that are at the heart of empathy: ‘Why do we have Thanksgiving and some people don’t?’  It has sparked some really important conversations in our family.”

After 30+ years of involvement, Carol still thinks there are things people don’t know about United Way, especially the work that is being done all around them: “I wish people understood the impact that United Way has in all of our communities.  There’s still a shame element to needing help, so it’s all very quietly done.  People are very supportive of food banks, shelters, women’s groups – you know there are people in need and everyone wants to help, but no one really knows the families who are actually getting help.  I think that if people really met the families they’re helping and knew what a game changer United Way is to people, they would be astounded.”

Finally, the Winigs would like people to understand that even families with little time can make a big impact.  “We’re big believers in the CITC (Community Investment Tax Credit) – I’m not sure everyone knows about this tax advantage.  Sometimes giving via the CITC helps people get over the hump to donate and once they’re in, they donate more.  It’s a way to appeal to peoples’ hearts and wallets at the same time.  United Way’s great because there’s so many vehicles that can help – and sometimes when life is complicated and there’s no time to volunteer or physically go to an event, I know my donation will always help.  Money still works!”