As Volunteer Campaign Chair for the United Way campaign this year, I’ve found myself asking “why”? Why is it necessary to have this in our community? Why should people give of their precious time and money? Why am I involved?
I’ve given to United Way since I participated in my first employee giving campaign in the early 90s. I remember the United Way team coming in and presenting a video on homeless and illiteracy. It seemed easy and like I was expected to give, so I did. At the time, where the money went was more of a puzzle to me, and I didn’t think all that much of it. It simply seemed like a grown-up, nice thing for me to do.
As time has gone on, I have continued to “give” to United Way and other worthy organizations. What I know now that my younger self didn’t was the vast needs in our community. I grew up very comfortably, always with a roof over my head, always with plenty of food on the table and in our cupboards, always with clothes to wear, always with transportation, etc. We didn’t have everything, but we definitely had what we needed. As a kid, you don’t really know what that means. I do remember being upset that my mom wouldn’t buy me Jordache jeans and instead I had to wear Cheryl Tiegs knock-offs. Oh, the horror! Doing without the coolest name-brand jeans is very different than wondering if we will be able to afford a place to live or have something decent to eat.
I have never had to live my life without “creature comforts” – food, warmth, a comfy bed. My own children have complained that “there’s no food in this house,” while they are staring at a fridge full of food and a well-stocked pantry. That’s privilege, my friends. I’ve worked consistently since I was twelve years old where I served hot dogs to car dealers from a huge boiling pot. I’ve been fortunate to always work where and when I’ve wanted to. That’s not everyone’s experience. There may be any number of reasons that people fall on hard times. Not everyone has family or resources to turn to in times of need.
Giving to United Way makes all of us better. It improves our community. It improves who we are as people. Through giving, we are able to:
- Make sure kids have a home where they feel safe.
- Make it possible for moms and dads to find jobs that allow them to support their family.
- Ensure children will no longer have to worry when they will have their next meal.
- Help people in our community succeed and thrive.
Another way to help United Way is to follow and share their content on your social spaces. There is so much good information with stories and articles that educate us on our community. I invite you to watch and share this year’s United Way video, “We Are All Connected,” to see how all of our lives truly do intersect with one another. The needs are greater than I initially understood. The complexity of homelessness in particular was different than how I perceived it. The issue of poverty and why and how people are able to escape it is much more layered than I realized – United Way is breaking down the barriers as to why people in poverty weren’t previously able to stop that cycle – it’s happening every day.
In this year of uncertainly, political divide and anger, unrest and fear, make this a year of giving. Every dollar donated fuels the story of a person, a life, a member of our community. Individually we can do a little. Collectively we can do a lot. Please consider your “why” and the difference you can make by making an investment in our community and giving to United Way. I invite you to learn more and give here.