SJR Column: Sunday August 9, 2020

As originally published in the The State Journal Register.

We are humbled to serve as the chairs of the 2020 United Way campaign and are asking you to join us in helping our community. For nearly 100 years, United Way has served as the largest private funder of health and human services in Central Illinois. Over the years, the United Way campaign has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to support local programs, and today their work is more important than ever.

Just a few short months ago our community and nation were confronted with a challenge of epic proportions. The COVID-19 pandemic changed every aspect of our society, from our economy to our personal relationships. While much remains uncertain, it is up to each of us to help our community recover. That is why the 2020 campaign is really important. Our friends and neighbors need all of us right now.

Starting last March, the economic shutdown created a dual crisis for the nonprofits which make up the backbone of our social safety net. Health and human service organizations faced an unprecedented loss of revenue as fundraisers and donations quickly disappeared. At the same time, the rapid rise in demand for their services further strained our local charities.

During that moment, United Way was here for our community. Together with the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln, United Way quickly acted to support local programs. They provided nearly $1 million in emergency assistance, benefitting more than 100 organizations in our area. While these response funds have helped organizations stay afloat and adapt to strains of the pandemic, they only provided temporary relief for the immense challenges facing social service programs.

Our community’s recovery requires that we maintain a strong network of health and human service programs. They not only provide for the basic needs of families but also provide access to healthcare, job skills training, and stable housing. They also help our children maintain grade level achievement, a challenge that will increase during the coming months. While United Way’s partner programs are working together to tackle these challenges in a thoughtful and measured way, it is ultimately up to each of us to make sure these programs continue to serve our community.

This year we hope you join our family in support of United Way in its mission to address the basic needs, education, financial stability, and health of every person in our community. Your support is more important than ever as our community recovers and we rebuild our local economy.

Please join our everyday heroes in lifting up our community. Be part of the 2020 campaign and make a tax-deductible gift to The United Way of Central Illinois.

Frank and Peg Lynch are the co-chairs of the 2020 United Way Campaign. Visit www.springfieldunitedway.org to learn more.