Over the next month, we are launching a campaign to show a whole bunch of love to the people who generously give to Urban Alliance and, in turn, are helping more than 130,000 people in Greater Hartford achieve lasting positive change in their lives.

To kick off the campaign, we recently sat down with UAGive donor Anna Pan to talk about what motivates her to give, what she hopes for the future for Urban Alliance, and how she sees the church as a critical factor in mobilizing sacrificial giving to help others.

How did you first get connected to Urban Alliance? My earliest involvement with one of your affiliates [in the UA network] was with Hartford City Mission. I volunteered for a little over a school year at their Noah After-School program when I was in high school. Then I went through the volunteer training at Urban Alliance, and that’s how I was able to get plugged into doing a broader range of volunteer opportunities with my church, Chinese Baptist Church. Our church group has done different UAServe group projects with South Church, Building Healthy Families, Hartford City Mission, Coram Deo, Youth Challenge of CT and New Dimension Christian Church, and those all came about through connections through UAServe. I’m excited about how organizations like UA bring together different church communities. 

What might someone be surprised to know about you? I enjoy long-distance running and obstacle course races. Perhaps more surprisingly, I enjoy taking exams so much that I made it part of my profession by becoming an actuary!

What prompted your decision to become a UAGive donor? I’ve been a donor for the last year and a half. What prompted that addition to how I serve was a desire to use my financial resources more meaningfully. I was a couple of years into my career and needing to make some decisions—what does it look like to give and where in my local community should I be giving? And so, this was a natural extension because I had already been involved with Urban Alliance by serving with my church.

I can see the value of the incredible work UA is doing at mobilizing the church to support and serve through those programs. You’re not coming in to try to replace those programs. You’re trying to build upon what already exists. So, to me, it’s very obvious why it’s so necessary. I think it expands the pool of volunteers and resources for critical community organizations.

How does giving make you feel? It makes me feel like I can do more, because the need is so great. Once you increase your awareness, that should prompt you to not be able to ignore these needs. It challenges me to identify areas of my life where I can be more sacrificial. I would like to talk more with my peers specifically around where our priorities sit as reflected by our budgets. As my peers and I develop into adulthood we need to have those conversations. It should require personal sacrifice. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for to cut out unnecessary expenditures in your life—you can! You’ll totally survive!

Even the littlest bit that someone sacrifices multiplies so much through this work. A small investment can make a huge impact through Urban Alliance.

What do you hope Urban Alliance will achieve in the near future? Over the long-term? I see so much opportunity for growth in the passion of the local church to actively participate in the work of Urban Alliance. I think that it’s such a privilege that I’m able to participate. Just to think about how I have this opportunity to play this tiny role through my limited means is so meaningful and I know that a lot of what UA does is to mobilize people to do that, to be the hands and feet of Jesus and go out there and put our feet to the ground. 

My hope is for the health of the church. If the church is filled with people who understand the vision of why Jesus came, then there would be no hesitation to say “yes! I want to sacrifice!” People would be first in line to volunteer, to give, and so my hope for the long-term future is that Urban Alliance would be able to sustain all the work that is being done because of the outpouring of support that comes from the church. If that happens then over time, the reach and influence of Urban Alliance will only increase.