United Way Campaign Is One Way to Give to Myriad Passions

Jonas Johnson, chair of the Department of Otolaryngology in the School of Medicine, believes that when you find things you’re passionate about, you should do what you can to support them.

He lists health care, education and science among his passions. “And I’ve found the United Way is an opportunity and avenue to hit a lot of bases all at once,” he said.

Jonas JohnsonThrough his support of the United Way, Johnson contributes to Hillman Cancer Center and the Eye and Ear Foundation. “And then I give more so that the people who run the organization can use it in the ways they have decided are most important or prioritized in our community,” he said.

Better than yesterday

“I’ve spent my entire adult life caring for people,” said Johnson, who noted he is also an educator involved with academic health care and a faculty member with teaching commitments. “We’re interested in creating new science so that the potential is that tomorrow will be better than yesterday.”

He sees the United Way as a way to support those endeavors, by giving back to both the community and to the various entities that support educators and investigators and clinicians. “The United Way serves as a center point for all kinds of not-for-profits in the community,” he said.

Through his work, Johnson provides care for people with throat cancer and has started a program for survivors. It’s given him and his team insight into the journey cancer patients have following treatment, with studies regarding quality of life, anxiety, depression and sleep. Read more about Johnson’s work in the Fall 2019 edition of Pitt Med magazine.

His recent research in the field surveyed people about what he calls “financial toxicity,” and the burden of care and costs people might not consider. In addition to treatment and health care costs, there are also professional considerations patients face, like those who can’t return to previous high-level jobs following treatment.

For some, Johnson said, that can mean they face difficult decisions, like choosing between attending their physical therapy session or repairing their car.

The United Way can work with those patients to connect them with the resources they need—which is one reason Johnson is happy to contribute to their organization.

“I do it because I’m committed to this and I think it’s important,” he said. “And I’m happy to encourage others to do it, too.”

How to donate

The deadline to donate via recurring payroll deduction is Friday, Dec. 20.

The Pitt United Way Campaign website has information about how you can donate to support the Pitt campaign.

Options to give include online through a recurring payroll deduction or a one-time gift; or by credit card, check or pledge form. 

Donors can contribute to the United Way Impact Fund, through which the United Way targets funds to support the local agencies that serve populations facing the most critical current needs, or donors can instead choose from hundreds of local and regional organizations to direct their contributions toward.