Marie and Larry Bigelow are among the Cape & Islands United Way’s most active volunteers. This year, they were the co-chairs and largest fundraisers for the organization’s “Second Summer Cycle” event. They’re also “Founders,” which means that they’ve committed to contributing $5,000 for 5 years.
The Bigelows have dedicated their time, talent, and treasure to make a difference in our Cape Cod community and influence sustainable change. Yet, they’ll tell you that they aren’t doing anything extraordinary. “You could have this conversation every day with people who are doing what we’re doing or much more for the community,” said Larry.
When did you get involved with the Cape & Islands United Way?
Marie – I was introduced to the United Way of Mass Bay in 1995 when I worked for Bank Boston. I attended the Annual Giving Drive and have been a supporter ever since. When we retired to Falmouth in 2015, I became involved with the Cape & Islands United Way and co-founded the affinity group, Women United, with Chris Eosco, which launched in 2017. It’s a group of like-minded females who work to uplift women and children in the community.
Larry – In the 1970’s, I worked as a loan executive for the Greater Hartford United Way. I was involved as a volunteer for the Acton / Boxboro United Way, eventually becoming president of the Board of Directors. In 2015, we retired to the Cape and began volunteering for the Cape & Islands United Way. I have been on the Board for 8 years as treasurer, and for 6 as the chair of the Housing Grants Review Committee.
In your opinion, what is the most important work that this organization does?
Marie – The Cape and Islands United Way is far-reaching across all of the towns. They look at the big picture, and identify the most important needs of the community – and that changes according to what is happening at the moment.
Larry – It’s a very efficient organization with a proven track record of results. With its strong brand reputation and ability to pivot and respond to emerging situations, they are at the top of their game. There are more than a thousand nonprofit organizations on the Cape and Islands. The United Way encourages collaboration and meets a wide variety of needs across a wide spectrum.
(The Cape & Islands United Way) looks at the big picture, and identifies the most important needs of the community. That can change, according to what is happening at the moment. - Marie Bigelow
What do you think the CIUW’s biggest challenge is?
Marie – There are no big corporations based on the Cape and Islands, like Bank of America or Gillette. We must rely more on individual donors and our outreach efforts have to be different because of that.
What work with the CIUW do you enjoy the most?
Marie – Initially I was very involved in launching Women United with Chris (Eosco), and it was very rewarding. But lately I’ve found volunteering at the different events – like the golf tournament and Power of the Purse – very enjoyable.
Larry – I think my favorite role lately has been chairing the Housing Grants Subcommittee. Seeing the dollars at work is my fiduciary responsibility as treasurer of the Board, but chairing this subcommittee and being so close to what’s happening on the ground in the community – getting into the details with the issues faced – is very rewarding.
What is something about the United Way that you admire?
Larry – During COVID, the CIUW was able to raise 150K for an emergency response fund. That fund has helped a lot of people during dire times. That’s amazing to experience.
Being so close to what’s happening on the ground in the community – getting into the details with the issues faced – is very rewarding - Larry Bigelow
What is something that people might not know about you?
Marie – I believe I have so much passion for helping others because I had a challenging childhood. My family used resources, like the programs made available through the United Way. I hold that close and it’s near and dear to me. I pay it forward to say thank you to those before me.
Larry – I’m a former marathon runner.
Thank you, Marie and Larry, for all you do!