Jay and Lynda Shuman speak with the easy banter of two people who share a lifetime of happy memories. They have two children, a new grandson born right before the pandemic, and an identical perspective on philanthropy. “Volunteering and giving back are so important to us and so much a part of our lives,” says Lynda. Jay agrees: “We just feel blessed to be able to contribute to our community in the ways that we do.”
Jay’s involvement with United Way started in 1982 after he graduated from Boston College and began work at Price Waterhouse (now PWC). At the company, Jay was encouraged to participate in their annual United Way workplace campaign, “United Way was the go-to charity at Price Waterhouse when I was there”. Over the years, Jay became increasingly involved, ratcheting up his support in 1994 when he moved to Boston Financial Data Services (acquired by SS&C) and was tapped to run the United Way Leadership Campaign, a role he continued throughout his years at the Company. For several years he worked on the Campaign Cabinet and was ultimately asked to join the United Way Board of Directors.
When United Way’s Tocqueville Society Council was being formed in 2018, Jay and Lynda were obvious choices to join the volunteer efforts. Together they have thoughtfully thanked and engaged fellow Tocqueville donors in United Way’s mission, especially through signature engagement events and family volunteer nights.
Of all their memorable moments with United Way, one that stands out for the Shumans is the Community Baby Shower, an annual event that provides essential supplies and resources to new and expecting parents in need. “What a wonderful experience,” says Lynda, “Before the event, we made blankets for the children. Then at the shower there were hundreds of people, you can’t even explain it until you see it. You get to meet these wonderful women who were so appreciative, it was one of the best experiences.”
Jay clearly agrees: “I’ve got to tell you, when you saw the looks on the faces of these people, it put things in perspective. It really makes you realize what they’re going through. It was so amazing – just changes how you think about your own problems. Anyone who sees this will realize how important it is to give back.”
The Shumans’ interests don’t stop with supporting young children. “When I was with Boston Financial Data Services, United Way agencies would come in and talk to us – it’s very powerful when you see the results of the dollars you provide to the community,” says Jay, “I’ll never forget hearing from College Bound Dorchester. This organization takes kids from the streets and equips them with the skills to graduate from college and become leaders in the community. These kids would come in and talk about prison and their everyday struggles, but because of the United Way support, they were going to college. Our donations were actually transforming their lives. When you can see where your dollars go, it’s amazing.”
Jay also sits on the Board of Directors of Boston Partners in Education, another United Way supported agency. This group helps to nurture the growth of Boston Public School students by providing them with in school volunteer support. “Naturally, it’s been a bit of a challenge this past year. But what’s more important than the education of our kids?”
When the COVID pandemic hit, the Shumans commitment to the community grew even stronger. “You see what’s happening – everyone is impacted somehow – everyone knows someone who has lost a job or been sick. The inner cities – Chelsea, Lynn, Revere, they are hit so hard. I keep thinking, how can this happen?” questions Jay. “We are fully supportive of the COVID fund and are so pleased about what the United Way team has done to raise the funds for COVID relief. We feel privileged to help in any way we can.”
Unsurprisingly, the values that define Jay and Lynda’s lives have been passed on to their children. “Our daughter is an Operating Room nurse at a Boston hospital,” Jay says proudly, “she and her mother are both very involved in Hadassah, a Jewish women’s philanthropy. She’s very sweet and giving and truly wants to help people.” Their son in law is very supportive of their daughter’s endeavors. Lynda and Jay’s son, who lives in Chicago, also exhibits a strong sense of compassion. He is on the board of Jewish National Fund Futures, helping to ensure Israel maintains a strong, secure and prosperous future. “We’ve tried to instill in them that it’s not about the paycheck but about what you do with it. As they get older, we know they will continue our legacy.”
For all their generosity, there is one more thing the Shumans would like to share with others – the benefits of getting involved with United Way. “The folks at the United Way do a tremendous job. There are so many volunteer opportunities – you don’t have to be part of a corporation to get involved with United Way. There are so many ways to help people – mentoring students, assembling kids’ backpacks, it’s so much about community. There’s so much more to United Way than meets the eye – it’s not just about putting money into the community, though that’s a huge part of it. People don’t realize the full impact of the United way, and how it improves the lives of so many people.”