RICHLAND -- When the United Way of Benton and Franklin Counties reviewed its lists of donors and volunteers, one group was absent.
"We noticed the Generation Y was missing," said Sarah Murphy, resource development manager for United Way.
The number of people in their 20s and 30s is expanding because of increasing job opportunities in the Tri-Cities and surrounding areas, she said, but many of those people don't know where to go to give back to the community.
Enter the United Way Young Leaders Society. A group of 40 people formed the society six years ago to encourage charity from young professionals, and it has grown to include 250 members.
Their annual meeting is from 6:30 to 8:30 tonight at Anthony's Restaurant event center, 450 Columbia Point Drive, Richland.
"It's really about getting connected and networking with others in the community," said Melanie Schmitt, a society member from Kennewick. "We want to raise awareness about the (United Way's) programs that enrich people's lives."
Last year, the society raised $152,000 for different programs including Our Babies Can't Wait, promoting child development.
This year, Schmitt said the group is looking for partnerships to focus on helping the community's youths.
A mentors program in conjunction with the Boys & Girls Club would cultivate a good image of giving back to the community for the kids, she said.
New and existing members can now choose to volunteer 25 hours in lieu of the $500 donation membership guideline that is encouraged.
"Not everyone has the means (to donate) financially," Schmitt said. "But they can at least contribute by volunteering hours."
-- Dalina Castellanos: 509-582-1542; firstname.lastname@example.org