Embracing Life and Making a Lasting Impact

Sometimes a loss leads to positive outcomes. After Uyntha Duncan's husband Don passed away in 2000, she threw herself into volunteering to help with the grieving process. It helped her overcome the loss, and her community benefited from the service.

She received several awards for her volunteerism. Then, in recognition of her service, strength, and the positive impact she made despite the loss of her 40-year life partner, she was named a State Farm® Embrace Life recipient in 2009.

She was able to focus on volunteer work because of their careful preparation and guidance from State Farm Agent Monte McCunniff (now Brad McCunniff's State Farm Agency).

"Without the careful planning Don and I did with Monte to get the right life insurance policy, I would have never been able to volunteer the time that led to the Embrace Life recognition," Uyntha says. "I didn't need to think about going back to work or being strapped for money. State Farm worked with us to ensure we were prepared."

That preparation continues to pay off years later. Because Uyntha and Don planned for the future and were careful with their money, Uyntha was able to invest her $10,000 Embrace Life award.

"After I received the award, I knew I would save it and donate it to some cause—I didn't know what that cause would be just yet," said Uyntha. "Our philosophy had always been to save and make good choices. When I won the award, I felt it was reward for saving and being prepared."

Uyntha is a nurse by trade and throughout her career worked in different emergency rooms. She knows the importance of a fully-equipped emergency facility. Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo, IA tapped that expertise and asked her to co-chair fundraising for a new emergency wing.

Feeling she needed to demonstrate her leadership and set a precedent, she decided to donate her $10,000 to help fund the new facility. In addition - again because of the plan and investment she, Don and Monte put in place - she was able to donate an additional $5,000 of her own money.

"Uyntha is a true spirit of philanthropy. She can see a need in our community and she not only gives financially but contributes her time and talents ultimately making a positive difference. With her help, we are now able to serve acute patients in a state-of-the-art facility now and for years to come," said Heather Bremer-Miller, Executive Director of Covenant and Sartori Foundations.

Uyntha has been a State Farm customer for 30 years. She and Don chose State Farm because friends and family highly recommended the company when they first got married. That choice turned out to be integral in planning for their future.

"We had three children in college at the same time. We started college funds for each when they were born. We added more to them and it grew," she says. "One of the biggest accomplishments my husband and I achieved was they all got through college debt-free."

The couple's belief in the importance of education now extends beyond the family. A scholarship Uyntha established at Hawkeye Community College in Cedar Falls has allowed a dozen students to each attend the college free for two years as long as they maintain a 3.0 GPA.

Don and Uyntha's philosophy has always been to save and make good choices. She encourages others to set long-range goals and stick to that plan too. She credits her success and ability to give back to the help she received from State Farm.

"It's so important to plan when you're young. It's good to be careful with your money and not spend everything you have."

She wishes more people would sit down and plan for their future.

"We were a couple of farm kids and always careful. Save for a rainy day because you don't know when there's a flood coming or when your barn is going to burn down."

Every day, Uyntha gets up and tells herself to "make the world a better place today" - a sure way to fully embrace life.