A little over six years ago, I faced a personal crossroads: to join United Way, an organization I long admired, or stay leading a local direct service organization where I felt my work was not done. Knowing the significance of the decision, we held a family meeting to discuss it over burgers and fries at a local restaurant. My very matter of fact 11-year-old son Ben said: “United Way? That’s a big deal. Why wouldn’t you?”
Six years later I am overcome by the “big deal” that our team of supporters have made possible. What I have always loved about United Way is the action taken by many to create something bigger and better than before. What draws me to United Way is the core belief that it is often not just one thing that is a barrier to progress, but many factors that compound all at once.
A family does not wake up without food on a given day without something else going wrong beforehand. A child unable to read in 3rd grade faced many obstacles before walking into the classroom. A family fleeing violence in their home needs a range of support to begin anew. A person is unable to keep a job without access to safe housing, reliable childcare, transportation, and healthcare.
Our challenges as a community are complex and require that our solutions be multiple, holistic, and consistent over the long term. There are no quick fixes. Yet, it is the power of collective and collaborative action that unlocks our greatest possibilities. That is the United Way.
Read more about Jaime’s 6-year highlights and opportunities for the future