Sarah Phalen: Give Us Three Steps

As originally published in the Our Towns section of The State Journal-Register on Sunday, August 16, 2015.

Sarah_PhalenAugust represents a time of celebration in our community. Families are preparing their children for the upcoming school year, the Illinois State Fair has arrived and summer vacations are coming to end. In addition, August represents a time when thousands of people from across our community come together to support the organizations working to address our community’s needs. This is because August represents the unofficial kickoff to United Way’s Annual Campaign.

My husband Pat and I are proud to serve as co-chairs of this year’s United Way Annual Campaign. Moreover, we are humbled and deeply honored to have our names added to the long list of community and business leaders who preceded us.

Although this year’s campaign does not officially begin until United Way’s Kickoff Breakfast on September 9, during August many local agencies and 11 Pacesetter companies step forward to run their company campaigns early and jump start our community’s largest fundraising effort.

As executives at Illinois National Bank (INB), a United Way Pacesetter, we understand the important role these companies and employees play in the annual campaign; and extend our thanks to those organizations that help jump start our efforts.

Last year the Becker family taught us that like a family, we are better when working together – that our community is stronger when we help each other face life’s challenges. As a result, for the first time in three years, United Way raised more money than the previous year.

This year we want to keep that momentum rolling and are challenging you to give us three steps. We’re challenging our community to learn, invest and share.

Learn – United Way plays an important role in our Springfield family as the organization bringing together community leaders, schools, nonprofits, and businesses to address the most pressing needs in our area. We ask each of you to give us three minutes to share how an investment in United Way is an investment in each of our futures.

Invest – Give, Advocate and Volunteer. When you invest in United Way you’re helping to improve the quality of life for everyone living in our community. Consider a small increase in your gift to United Way or the number of hours you volunteer.

Share – One of the biggest things we hear from new donors is that they would have given a long time ago but no one asked them and they weren’t aware of what United Way does. So, this year make a commitment to share United Way’s story. Let them know that United Way is improving the quality of life for everyone in our community. Let them know that 100% of their investment to the community fund stays local; that 100% of their investment to the community fund goes directly to services; and how building a better Springfield starts with working together.

We live in a wonderful community and working together we can make this community even better. We invite each of you to join us at this year’s Campaign Kickoff Breakfast on Wednesday, September 9, 2015 at the Hilton in Downtown Springfield. Last year, more than 80 different organizations and companies joined us for this annual event; and this year we hope you will be among them.

Sarah Phalen is the co-chair of the 2015 United Way Campaign. United Way’s Campaign Kickoff Breakfast is at 8:00 a.m., Wednesday, September 9, 2015 at the Hilton in Downtown Springfield. Visit to register online or call 726-7000 for more information. Look for United Way columns weekly in Our Towns.