How this volunteer makes Jefferson City an incredible community.

I’m going to be honest with you. Until recently, I was completely ignorant about the depth of our community. Jefferson City was a wonderful place in which to grow up and go to school, but I didn’t understand what makes our city — the capital city — special. The capacity of giving here is, without question, truly remarkable. Without really thinking about it, we structure our social events, sporting events, professional lives, and more around giving back to those in need. And as we’ve shown, there is need here. Thankfully, we’re a community of philanthropic warriors, each and every one displaying a passion for what they do.

Enthusiasm

Mike Downey is everywhere. Recently, I saw him at three different philanthropic events in one week, always with a smile or laugh prominent. Not one to give up a chance to help, Mike is involved with several local philanthropies, including United Way of Central Missouri, Jefferson City Day Care Center (now Little Explorers Discovery Center), the Capital City Jazz Fest, and the ABLE Learning Center. As chairman of the United Way’s marketing committee, Mike is involved in planning (and, of course, marketing) events such as Mid-Missouri’s Got Talent. He says he’s been working with the United Way for 20 years or so — he doesn’t know the exact number.

“In church, it was always time, talent, and treasure,” Mike says. “I feel that if you have the ability to give, you need to give. That’s what first drove me. There’s also the idea that it’s so rewarding to do it. You get rewards through people appreciating what you do, but you also get to see the results of your work.

“That’s a little selfish, but that’s okay,” he laughs. “The third reason is that you have to show the way to younger people. This is not only something you should do, but it’s something you can really enjoy doing. At Mid-Missouri’s Got Talent, there were dozens of volunteers and many of them were very young. That was such a ‘Yes!’ moment. If you get them to volunteer young, then they are likely going to continue.”

Along with his charitable work, Mike also manages KJLU and teaches the occasional speech or theater course at Lincoln University. Mike is a communicator, he has a business mind, and he’s enthusiastic in everything he does. He uses these talents in his professional life, of course, but he shares them for what he considers a greater purpose as well. Being able to communicate the need — communicating so people will really listen — is vital to any nonprofit or charitable organization. With people like Mike involved, you can be sure everyone will know when and where the next United Way event is, and they’re sure to have a blast.

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