For Amber Gober, volunteering is part of leading by example and teaching her children that “life isn't just all about me,” she said.
Gober, business development specialist and mortgage loan officer at Peoples State Bank in Rib Mountain, ramped up her volunteerism when she joined the Wausau Area Jaycees. Through that local organization, in which she was involved for about seven years, she “got the bug to be out in the community and help out where she could,” she said. “When you uncover a need and are able to help, there's a feeling of being able to make a difference. In most cases, all it takes is my time."
Gober is passionate about dedicating some of her free time to giving back in Wausau, the community she’s always called home. With the Jaycees, she enjoyed helping make the annual 4th of July celebration a reality as well as participating in different service projects such as Adopt-A-Highway.
In 2018, she became involved with United Way Women United and currently serves as a council member and vice president. She previously co-chaired the group’s signature event, the Power of the Purse, in 2018 and 2019. Gober values volunteering with the group because its so focused on helping women in the community.
“That’s huge because we have to advocate for ourselves, and if someone can’t, we have to advocate for them,” she said.
Gober has been in the thick of organizing the Power of the Purse in a few recent years; both the 2020 and this year’s event on May 3 were held virtually.
Among the many responsibilities associated with the initiative is secure donations of purses and accessories, all of which are included in a huge silent auction and a live auction. Funds from both are granted to various organizations in the community helping women in need.
As part of the impact committee, Gober has helped to review the applications for funds. In her work with United Way Women United, she has various monthly meetings to attend including for her role as special events and member relations committee and event planning.
She also participates in executive meetings quarterly as well as various virtual evening nights out that have been held virtually the past year. Also on the women forefront is Gober’s involvement on the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce’s Women Leadership Conference committee that she has served on since 2015. Historically, the event has been a one-day event, but this year, it’s a virtual series of two-hour sessions in April and May focused on topics including women’s growth, resiliency, leadership, confidence, etc.
“It's really about providing learning opportunities on anything that will help a woman thrive in her current position or obtain her next position,” she said.
Children are the focus of her efforts with Junior Achievement and she visits John Marshall Elementary School, her former grade school that her children — a 9-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son — attend. There, she shares Junior Achievement curriculum with second graders, helping them to learn how money moves around the community from earning it in a job to spending it with a business for products or services, etc.
“It’s fun to open the eyes of the kids because they usually don't have an understanding of how this all works. If they need something, they get money from mom or dad but don’t understand where the money comes from.”
Business people and the business community are the focus of her work as a Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce ambassador, a role she held 2009 to 2016 and resumed in 2020. While last year was different in regard to fewer in-person opportunities, she’s still been able to welcome businesses to the chamber and to promote chamber-member businesses within the community. She’s looking forward to welcoming more faces at events; “With our red coats, we are approachable and help introduce members to other people and help members get what they want out of their membership,” she said.
In the past, she also served as a director on the board of the Wausau Area Builders Association and chaired the organization’s silent auction to fund raise for the group's political action committee. Gober said she’s often tapped to secure donations as “I know how to get the message out and am not afraid to ask others in the community for assistance in raising funds for a cause,” she said. “I have passion to work with organizations important to me."
Understandably, a high-demand role in a busy industry, an active home life and a calendar of volunteering is a juggling act, but Gober makes a point of closely scheduling time to prioritize what she can.
While Zoom meetings for some of her volunteer groups has been the norm, it's had notable side benefits of allowing her children to participate in some things such as the United Way Women United’s virtual events, participating in freezer meal cooking and preparation and overhearing presentations from organizations that received grants on the impact they made.
“Hearing things on the calls sparks a lot of questions from them and creating a foundation of understanding and caring from little on is important so they can carry on and make a difference — small things they can do now and bigger things when they are older,” she said.