Matt Malone, a radio host for 97.5 Y-Country, starts every morning with a good news segment.
“You don’t want to wake up and hear about the bad stuff,” he said. “The least we can do is get a smile on your face to start the day. The world needs more good and positivity.”
He said that’s one of the big reasons he volunteers through United Way of Southwest Michigan and heads up Midwest Family Broadcasting’s Rake A Difference team each year.
The Berrien Springs resident has been in Southwest Michigan for three years, and says he gives back because that’s what people did for him.
Herald-Palladium Staff Writer Alexandra Newman sat down with Malone recently to hear about why United Way is so important to him.
How did you get involved volunteering for United Way?
I’ve supported United Way for quite a while, since I was about 20 years old. Then, it was more from a financial standpoint. Being young I really didn’t have that time to give back.
I first stated getting involved in different activities at United Way when I started working at a radio station full time in midwest Wisconsin and seeing the benefit they had on the community. But here locally, three years.
I know you do Rake A Difference, do you do any other activities or give back to any other organizations?
That one is the primary one. I do some stuff with the beneficiaries of the United Way. I’m a huge supporter of the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency.
I try to help out when I can there. I’m looking forward to our Stuff a Truck campaign. That’s one of those cases where I get to see the project through.
Like, last year, we raised the food here at the station, then I got to load people’s cars up with food. It was cool to see it from start to finish.
What keeps you going back and volunteering?
I’ve been a beneficiary of food from a food pantry. I’ve been a beneficiary of toys during Christmastime.
My mom passed away when I was about 10 years old, and my dad being a single dad raising twins, it was not easy. It was hard financially. You get put into this situation and you don’t know what to do.
How would you feel if you had kids and you knew you couldn’t provide them a birthday party or a Christmas, or food to eat in general? That’s something that I lived through and not knowing, as a child.
Looking back and thinking about how my mom did it while she was going to school, then how my dad did it as a single parent and deciding to switch to second shift to raise an extra dollar an hour to afford to raise us.
What’s your favorite part about volunteering?
I think it’s a two-fold thing. First, I think it’s helping out people who decided to take the step to ask for help. That’s a hard thing for people to do, swallow their pride and say, “I need assistance.”
To be able to be a person who can be there for somebody not wanting to be in the position they’re in and knowing there are people who do care.
Then, using my volunteer experience and trying to bring other people into it. I work with United Way, I donate to United Way, this is why you should, too.
That’s exactly my next question, what would you say to someone who is considering volunteering?
I would say the short-term time and monetary donations that you give have long-term affects for other people. An extra two hours to rake a senior’s lawn might mean they’re able to stay in their house an extra year or three years.
It’s pride; knowing you’re not just living your life to go to work and go home. You’re doing something bigger than yourself.
When you’re not working at the radio station, or volunteering, what are you doing?
I travel a lot for work. I work up in Grand Rapids at two stations as well as here, and I work at one in Madison, Wis. I travel around a lot for concerts and visiting family, too.
I’m a walking, talking Luke Bryan song. “Huntin’, fishin’ and lovin’ every day.”
Is there anything else you’d like to say or make sure that I include that I didn’t ask?
At the very least if someone is on the fence of donating or volunteering, talk to someone from United Way. Not necessarily someone with the organization, but someone who has benefited from them and how it has changed their life.
Contact: anewman@TheHP.com, 932-0357, Twitter: @HPANewman