2017 Gifts of Hope Year End Blog
Todd Gives the Gift of Hope
Gifts of Hope Blog #3
Written by Todd Bale
Posted December 21, 2017
My relationship with United Way began 20 years ago as an agency representative in Baldwin County, Alabama. I was then working with a Metro Boys & Girls Club organization in Mobile, Alabama, but I was the local face of the clubs in my service community of about 8,500 people.
As the Boys & Girls Club Executive Director, I was often called upon to lead United Way tours for employer campaigns in our clubs. It was always impressive the very broad-based and significant support that United Way garnered in every community. The strongest, most generous and most talented community leaders were always willing to step up to join the Board or the Campaign Cabinet.
What was compelling to me was that everyone could contribute and make a difference from six-figure donors to the guy giving six dollars a pay period. We all had a role to play, we all had an investment, and stake in the quality of life in our community, and for the care of those in the greatest of need.
In the spring of 2017 when I was looking to make a move to a different human services charity, I had to look at where I invested my time, talent and resources outside of my professional role. Upon that moment of introspection, it became pretty evident that United Way was important to me. It was important to me because it was important to so many others. It encompasses every walk of life, every demographic in three very vital areas of impact. How successful could you be without good health? What is your quality of life if you don’t have financial stability? What are your future prospects without a professional trade or higher education?
None of us can change the whole world or solve all of its problems, we leave that to God. But if we all come together fueled by compassion and common aspirations for our community – we can accomplish a lot, especially in a community the size of Adams County which has hovered around the same population for decades. The challenges here are clearly identified. The solutions are obvious but they take the investments of resources, manpower and real community focus to deploy.
One the most amazing parts of this equation is that because of the programs like VITA, where our volunteers prepare 1,200 tax returns for families with under $53,000 in gross income, we helped to bring back $1.6MM to the community in federal and state tax rebates! Our local residents and economy actually made $500,000+ by having a United Way in our community.
In this day and age, there is so much that divides us politically, ideologically and often theologically – but to echo the sentiments of Irv Schechter, the 1977 Campaign Chair, - “Everything that’s being done with the money is good. It’s all good. How do you argue with good?”
Call me naïve or overly optimistic but if everyone, and I mean everyone, does what they can….collectively, we’ll have enough good stored up to begin to really make a significant impact in those areas that are long overdue for improvement in our community, in order for it to reach its full potential. We don’t just pay lip service, we sincerely accept that challenge, we lean into it and we embrace it. Our Board, our staff, myself, and our family are all committed to doing our part…doing our fair share to improve the community. We hope you will join us in the crusade.
Mellissa Gives the Gift of Hope
Gifts of Hope Blog #2
Written by Mellissa Douglas
Posted December 15, 2017
Mellissa is the Pricing Manager for Phibro Animal Health. She is a native born and raised in Quincy. Mellissa attended College in St. Louis at Fontbonne University. She lived in St. Louis for twelve years and in New Orleans for two years before returning home to Quincy.
Mellissa has one six year old son, Parker, who keeps her very busy with his sports.
She enjoys playing volleyball, cooking, following her son’s activities, and spending time with her family. She is currently the Campaign Chair for Phibro and also serves as a United Way Loaned Executive and on the Resource Investment Team.
I have always known of United Way, but had not learned what the services really meant to our community until I started working at Phibro. As I became more involved with our company team, I became more invested in the good things and the good organizations United Way was associated with.
What is United Way? The United Way is an organization that raises money to help individuals who are not as blessed as we are. They help people that may have lost their job or need help finding clothes, food or even help getting their medicine.
Considering UWAC helped more than 31,000 people last year, I can guarantee one of those people is going to be someone I know. Whether it is a relative or a friend, but yes, I have family members that have used VITA program provided by the United Way.
Also, serving on the Resource Investment Process Committee for United Way, I have seen first hand the partner organizations in action. I have seen the success stories of the community members who were able to gain access to the services.
United Way is important to our community because sometimes people need fresh starts; they need a second chance, or just a little help. Everyone deserves the opportunity to succeed.
I think United Way is a good organization to help people get those opportunities.
The importance of giving simply starts with being grateful for what you have. This is a lesson we have started in our home. Every year for my son’s birthday parties, we ask for food pantry donations instead of gifts. We then go together the next day to deliver the food to one of the Adams Country food pantries.
I volunteer, invest my time and money because I believe to helping others, I believe people need a boost, I invest because I can, it is who I am. I do it to be a good role model for my son. I do it because I feel like I have given someone the hope they need. The Question is not “why do you help with United Way”, the real question is Why I would not help. If I help the difference in just one person’s life, “Why would I not help?”
Get Back Your Passion for Our Community: Give the Gift of Hope
Gifts of Hope Blog #1
Posted December 1, 2017
When I started writing this first intro blog for our Gift of Hope campaign I thought, how can I communicate what United Way is in a real way? Not the canned explanation of what United Way does, not a list of data points, but why is United Way important?
After going to church last night I gained better clarity and completely scrapped my first draft. The message I heard was about being idle in life, just phoning it in and going through the motions of your daily life. This happens to all of us, we lose the passion for things that are important and the drive to do good and impact others.
We get bogged down by the minutia of life, all of the little details that need our attention to keep the household running from one day to the next. It can be tough to take a minute to breathe and think about the bigger picture when social media, work, kids, bills, etc. are all competing for our time.
Then there are people asking for you to give to their cause. Something posted on Facebook, a plea to round up at the drive thru window, a ringing bell as you enter a store, and the list goes on. And we just tune all of it out.
So what do you listen to through the noise? How do you not remain idle? How can you make a difference on a larger scale in Adams County?
United Way IS the passion for our community. It is not idle. It is the heartbeat that keeps everything flowing and moving to keep our community growing and improving. If you take a step back and look at Adams County, United Way guides and collaborates with community solutions teams and volunteers, provides direct services to those in need and fundraises to support agencies across the county. United Way volunteers decide what programs the funds will support and meticulously evaluate each agency to ensure they are making lasting impact.
For me, United Way is a beacon of hope for those whose lives have reached a point of despair, have unmanageable pain and suffering and need that helping hand to get back on track. I live a life where I know if I have a tragedy, I have the support to help me get through it. Imagine what it would be like to be one tragedy away from living on the street. What if the only person you can turn to is your abuser, or the people who brought you into the world do not protect or care for you.
United Way sees the big picture and is the guiding hand, but does not forget the individual. When you are looking at the dollars and cents of everything it can be easy to not see the faces of those affected. United Way stays close to that side of the coin as well. When people have already used every resource they have available they call the United Way HelpLine. When members of our community need financial assistance during tax season, United Way volunteers prepare their tax returns free of charge.
A few weeks ago a woman had no heat in her home and no solution. Through collaboration with Unmet Needs, United Way was able to provide her with a space heater. When she came to pick up the heater her eyes were filled with tears and she could barely speak she was so full of emotion. That small space heater gave her the courage she needed to keep moving forward and hopefully the strength to overcome this difficult time in her life.
When you give to United Way you know your dollar is making a difference. United Way sees the big picture so you don’t have to. United Way cares for the individual on your behalf. When you give to United Way you are giving the gift of hope. This can be a financial gift or the investment of time as a volunteer. When you partner with United Way you are moving your community forward – you are not idle.
Over the next few weeks of this holiday season United Way will be sharing “Faces of Hope” from members of our community that were brave enough to share their story and how United Way has made an impact in their life. We will also be sharing more stories like this one from those that give, advocate and volunteer with United Way. We hope you will join us this year in giving the gift of hope.
Have a wonderful Christmas season full of joy,
Member of your community and
Director of Community Impact & Investment for United Way of Adams County