Menomonee Falls resident Cedric Mays has always placed high value in serving others, and in 2011 in he took that to a different level serving as the co-chair of Northwestern Mutual’s United Way of Milwaukee fund raising campaign.
Mays, who has lived in Menomonee Falls more than a decade, played an integral role in the overall planning of the 2011 campaign, and also provided guidance to the numerous volunteers involved.
Through the efforts of Mays, and the fundraising team, more than 4,000 Northwestern Mutual employees contribute over $1.7 million to the United Way of Greater Milwaukee this year. Through employee, retiree and Northwestern Mutual Foundation donations, the company contributed $3.8 million, which was a new record.
“The most rewarding thing is to see the commitment and the rally from the employee base. The company, as a whole, has an understanding of the need for the community,” Mays said.
Mays commutes to the downtown Northwestern Mutual office, were more than 3,000 of the company’s 5,000 employees work. Apart from his day-to-day tasks, Mays put in some 10 to 15 extra hours some weeks to orchestrate the fundraising campaign.
More than 87 percent of Northwestern Mutual’s employees contributed to the fundraising efforts.
Overall, more than 1,000 employees donate 30,000 hours of their time annually for volunteering efforts.
“Northwestern Mutual’s efforts to secure future generations and develop our local economy are significantly strengthened by employee volunteers like Cedric who are making a major impact,” said John Kordsmeier, president, Northwestern Mutual Foundation.
Next year, Mays will take over as chair of the 2012 fundraising campaign with the company. Mays is well aware that the expectations will be pushed higher, but he’s ready to take on the challenge.
“The bar continues to get set higher and higher, and I am poised to notch things up,” Mays said. “I think the community itself and our employees are also aware that the need will continue to grow.”
About two years ago, Mays spent four months on assignment with the United Way as a loan executive. He worked directly with the organization to help other companies organize their own fundraising campaigns. When he returned, the transition to position of leadership in Northwestern Mutual’s fundraising efforts was seamless.
Mays’ commitment to service began long before he was involved with the United Way and Northwestern Mutual, however. Helping others was a value instilled upon him from an early age.
“I have to credit my parents for the passion that I have for service,” Mays said. “They always instilled in me that everything we’re able to achieve is not of our own power, and from that, it’s our duty to spin things around and do what you can to give back.”
His mother was a schoolteacher, and naturally had a gift for helping and educating others. His father also mentored children in the classroom. Both parents were also deeply involved with their local church community.
“When you see all this growing up, it goes without saying that it’s in your blood,” Mays said.
Now, with his own family, Mays is passing down those same lessons with his wife, Lula, and their two children Brian, 14, and Brittany, 20.
Mays mentors at the YMCA with the Black Achievers program, and also sat on the board with his church. He has also coached his son through the ranks in the Amateur Athletic Union basketball program.
But wait, there’s more. In 2005, the Mays family founded the Lula and Cedric Mays Foundation, which writes grants and obtains scholarships to help college-bound students afford education.
“It’s something that has been very near and dear to us, and rewarding as well,” Mays said.
So if you happen to bump into Cedric sometime out near the Creekwood Crossing neighborhood, be sure to stop and say thanks to a great volunteer in the village.