There are many reasons why Carrie Ward, supervisor-Information Systems at PPL, is so devoted to the community, but seeing the positive impact of her efforts is at the top of that list.
“Volunteering and philanthropy are part of my core values,” Ward said. “I love the fact that I can impact people’s lives where I live.”
Because of this dedication, Ward, a PPL employee since 2000, was named by the YWCA of Bethlehem as one of the Lehigh Valley’s three Women of the Year.
She generously devotes time and financial resources to nonprofit organizations that promote diversity, equality and child and adult literacy. During a Women’s Leadership Council member event at the ProJeCt of Easton, Ward watched a woman from Nigeria who had previously struggled with English, stand in front of the group and give a full speech.
“Through volunteering, you’re watching the impact of your efforts,” she said.
She serves as co-chair of membership on the United Way Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) — a donor group of the United Way focused on education and literacy through support of four signature projects. WLC enhances the United Way’s efforts by providing volunteer and financial resources for targeted educational programming at two elementary schools, the Literacy Center and ProJeCt of Easton.
Funds donated through WLC help to provide in-school, after-school and summer education programs, books, clothing closets, food pantries, and support for reading and science nights with parents and kids.
“Part of the reason we work with kids in school is that a child who can read at the third grade level in third grade has a much better shot at graduating high school,” Ward said. “The earlier you get them into a good learning environment and to appreciate books … those are success factors for being able to read and graduate.”
Ward also serves on the board of Lehigh Valley Children’s Centers, which is a nonprofit child care organization focused on providing high quality early education and child care that promotes healthy child development, meets the needs of families and encourages children to discover the joy of learning.
The YWCA of Bethlehem’s Women of the Year award will be presented on April 7 at the 41st annual Women and Teens of the Year Award Ceremony. The award recognizes philanthropic efforts and community volunteerism focused on ending racism, and promoting equality and diversity, Ward said.
“I am honored – I didn’t even know I’d been nominated,” Ward said, and admitted the award brought tears to her eyes.
The pull to volunteer started early on for Ward, as a child growing up in Canada. Even as a young Girl Guide (the Canadian equivalent of Girl Scouts), she recognized the importance of giving back to her community.
As a distinguished member of the scouting community, Ward has taught girls how to give effective presentations as part of the PPL-sponsored training program for girls involved with the Girl Scout’s Take the Lead event, which honors outstanding women in the community. As part of the training, girls learn to fill all the roles required to manage and execute the annual event.
Ward’s commitment to her community is evidenced in her efforts, but her motivation comes down to a simple truth. “Communities need you,” Ward said. “It feels good at the end of the day to help others, change lives and break the cycle of poverty.”