As Director of Community Impact at Granite United Way in Manchester, New Hampshire, Aimee Kereage lives and works by these three words, which represent the mission of the organization.
Her dynamic vision is to bring together local businesses and nonprofits and pool their resources to enhance community life through critical needs projects. She embraces the area’s diversity and is energized by working with these families.
But Kereage did not start her working life in this career. For many years she worked for a national restaurant chain, running restaurants and traveling the region as a management trainer. When her daughter entered her teen years, she began to look for an alternate career path that would allow her more time at home.
A Wildcat alumnus, Aimee saw a UNH Facebook posting about a new online program and “the lightbulb suddenly turned on!” She enrolled in the first class to earn a degree with the Masters of Social Work program at UNH Online, graduating in 2016.
She was petrified. Although the non-traditional student model was appealing, online study was a brand-new venture for Aimee. But her small student cohort worked together to make it their own, like “pioneers” forging their way through unfamiliar territory.
The remote learning format suited Kereage’s lifestyle and “the online program quality matched that of the on-campus degree”.
During her internship with an elementary school, Aimee coordinated critical medical services for families and schoolchildren, and this first taste in community work ignited a rapidly growing interest in youth services that propelled her to seek a position with Granite United Way.
The combination of a business background and experience with nonprofits placed Aimee in a unique position as an “translator” to partner different organizations from the community -- each with their own “language” -- in a coordinated effort with a common goal.
“I was able to recreate myself in a second career that satisfies my passion for community work and youth education. It is a perfect fit and a high point in my life.”
Kereage has worked closely on three extraordinary school projects: an enrichment program targeting middle schoolers”; a web-based program that has greatly improved literacy rates across Manchester middle schools; and a proactive The Leader in Me program based on Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
With her organizational fire, Aimee has amplified the Granite United Way’s broad-reaching mission and solidified the organization’s reputation as a remarkable and dedicated support for the Manchester youth community.
Aimee describes her teenage daughter’s initially tepid reaction to her mother’s return to school. But the real-life impact of Kereage’s work gradually shifted that response to respect, embracing the family role model for social work.
Living the philosophy that we are bigger than the sum of our parts, Aimee is thrilled to have found a new and satisfying career in a community close to her heart. The three Granite United Way watchwords – learn, earn, be healthy – are clearly an attainable vision that she uses to inspire the next generation.
Through her powerful work ethic, Aimee teaches us that “learning does not stop with the passage of time”.