Armed with a $4.15 million goal, United Way is in the midst of its 2012 campaign trail to fund 42 health and human service programs at 23 partner agencies throughout the CSRA. These programs focus on four central areas: helping youth succeed; promoting health and wellness; providing basic needs; and strengthening families and individuals. Many of us probably take these seemingly inherent behaviors for granted. More importantly, many don’t have this type of stability in their lives.
If you’ve never been in a position where you’ve had to reach out to someone for help, then it’s likely difficult to understand why it’s so important to give to United Way. Unquestionably, though, the need for services in our community is more than just a great need; it’s an enormous necessity.
Chances are, someone you know has required the services of a United Way-funded program, whether it was for a job skills training program, substance abuse addiction, an after-school children’s program or rehabilitation for a mental illness. It may even be that assistance was needed when an unexpected crisis occurred, such as the loss of a home because of fire damage.
IT’S NOT ALWAYS that “other person” or “those people” who need help. Anyone can be faced with any circumstance at any time. United Way funds programs that tackle real issues and real problems that affect real people. And, they produce real results. Each program is 100 percent accountable for demonstrating lasting and measurable outcomes.
Participation in United Way’s campaign is not all about dollars and cents. Mainly, it’s all about what makes sense. Does it not make sense to help our community prosper, succeed and be productive so that we all benefit from an improved quality of life? That’s exactly the mission of United Way: to improve life in our community by maximizing the impact of charitable contributions. With only a 54.3 percent graduation rate among metro Augusta area high-school students, we are severely lacking in providing a better way of life for our future generation. Giving to United Way by making a donation of money or time can change that.
In today’s times, there’s no doubt that giving is easier said than done. Trying to do more with less is challenging at best. But, it doesn’t have to be difficult to give. Many businesses in the CSRA run workplace campaigns. This allows their employees to make a specified contribution directly to United Way from their paychecks.
IT’S SURPRISING that a little really does go a long way. Investing only $5 each week for a year in United Way – instead of, say, eating lunch out – covers the cost to provide one full week of GED classes. It also ensures that an elderly person will not go without food for an entire month. Equally important is giving of one’s time. There are countless services throughout the CSRA who welcome the talents and skills of volunteers. Time or money; each is invaluable. They both make a difference.
Also invaluable is the emergency phone number 211. This confidential helpline connects people to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Funded by United Way, the service provides a gateway for individuals to seek assistance for unrelated 911 emergencies such as needing shelter, food or utility bill assistance. This year alone, more than 155,000 calls have been received by 211. The need is there, and it continues to grow.
For United Way, giving is better. It’s making a commitment not only to help others but ourselves as well. It’s an investment in our community’s future, and that means we all benefit.
But sometimes it is also better to receive. In situations where there is nowhere else to turn, United Way is there, resource-ready, for those who desperately need to receive help. It’s all about give and take.
(The writer is the factory manager for John Deere Commercial Products in Grovetown, and is the 2013 campaign chairman for the United Way of the CSRA.)