Team Member Spotlight: Rich Schlameuss

December 19, 2017

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

For a number of years, Rich Schlameuss ran a non-profit that served the poor in north central West Virginia. The agency had many volunteers, some of whom were themselves poor. These volunteers wanted to give back as much, if not more, than they needed, as they recognized their own gifts and full hearts. They made the agency as great as they were through their service.  This is a type of collective impact on a micro scale that elevates a whole community through service.

Rich has made public service his career. From running non-profits, to administering programs that serve the poor, to ensuring that those who are shut-in and disabled have the ability to travel around our region, Rich has been focused on others. When he is not helping to improve our community’s transportation challenges through his work at Monroe County Transit Authority, in his “free time,” Rich has found that being a volunteer for other organizations is incredibly rewarding. His favorite service is with United Way.

As a former agency director who was the recipient of United Way funds, Rich knows the importance of United Way, not only to a partner agency’s budget, but as a signal of community trust.  United Way not only raises funds for critical community needs, but works to ensure that funds are being used responsibly. “United Way is bringing partners together, ensuring agencies are reinforcing each other – building trust and getting agencies to work together towards shared goals that start to solve some of the critical community challenges facing Monroe County,” says Rich. “Each year, a volunteer committee reviews how the allocation is spent. They review the goals of the agency programs to determine if they are being met and makes a recommendation for next years’ community investments.” As the Chair of the Board of Directors for United Way of Monroe County, Rich knows this is hard work for both the agency and the volunteers who conduct the reviews, but it is extremely important.

“In my mind, greatness is when our hearts are full of grace and love,” says Rich. “Greatness is more than a sense of having ‘done something good;’ it has the power to propel an organization, a community, an area, forward and accomplish something significant and lasting. Fortunately, everyone can be great because there are so many opportunities for service in our community. United Way makes it easy to volunteer in our community, as we have website to help link volunteers with non-profits in the community.  But service can also be done through your church or faith community, or in your neighborhood.  It is serving in your community in a way that is special to you that is important.”

Rich has not forgotten the important lesson – that greatness is achieved through service. It is through the humble act of giving of time, treasure, and talent that one can see his or her own self-worth and identify in those around us. For the volunteers at United Way, gifts of time and talent is their treasure that they freely spend in order to help others. You too can be great – seek your place to be of service.