Issue: May/June 2012
One To Watch: Carrie Clemens
34 | Director of corporate and workplace giving, United Way of Greater Stark County
In her first job out of college, Carrie Clemens did a little bit of everything for Hendrickson, a maker of suspension systems and components for heavy-duty trucks and trailers. Although she worked in marketing, pricing and customer service at the Canton manufacturer, she wanted more out of her career. “I got a little burnt out,” says Clemens, a Mount Union graduate. “It wasn’t what I wanted. I wasn’t helping anyone.” So she left her job to be director of corporate and workplace giving for the United Way of Greater Stark County. Early lessons:
Clemens knows what it’s like to struggle, growing up without many of the things that people want and need. “I grew up in a family that didn’t have a lot,” she says. “I was raised by a single mother who had me at a young age.” In the long run:
Clemens helps in ways other than the United Way. For more than a year, she’s been a coach for Stark County’s Girls on the Run, a nonprofit that teaches third- through fifth-grade girls about dealing with peer pressure, how to say no and what to do if they’re being bullied. The program culminates with an annual female-only 5k run. “The 5k is just so amazing to see,” says Clemens, who’s training to walk in this year’s Cleveland Marathon. “There are women there with their 2-year-old daughters walking the 5k. It’s so special.”
IB: Why are companies such as The Timken Co. and Diebold vital to Stark County?
They’re two of our largest employers in Stark Country. It’s great for young professionals, who can get their foot in the door and start working there to progress up that ladder. They’re also a big part of the United Way campaign.
IB: What’s a big misconception about Canton?
That there’s not a lot to do there. That’s really changed. Our arts community is growing. We have Arts in Stark responsible for bringing different sorts of arts into the community, whether it’s at the museum or different theater productions.
IB: Is this going to be your first marathon?
Probably my first and last. ... I volunteered at [the Cleveland Marathon] last year and learned about the walking division. I was like, “Sure, I like to walk! I can do that, no problem.” It’s a whole different thing when you consider that you’re going to be walking for six hours.
IB: What’s been the most rewarding part of your job at United Way?
Hitting our campaign goal the past two years. A lot of people don’t know how intense a fundraising campaign can be. It’s three months of nonstop work. It always inevitably comes down to that last day. Knowing that we’re able to raise over $7 million that’s going to go back out there and help people who need to have better lives — I can’t put into words how that feels.
IB: Do you have a party after?
We do have a big party — and then the next day we start all over again.
IB: What’s a favorite quote of yours?
“Nothing is impossible, the very word itself says, ‘I’m possible.’ ” It’s actually something that I came across a few months ago, right in the middle of our fundraising campaign. It was extremely fitting. It’s from Audrey Hepburn.
IB: Who inspires you most?
My mom. I know what she sacrificed to be able to raise me and to give me the life I had. She put me through college at the same time she put herself through college. Anytime I need that strength, I can look at her and see what she’s done in life and the struggles that she’s gone through to get me to where I’m at today.
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