As originally published in the State Journal Register.
The United Way of Central Illinois is in its 100th year serving the community. I am honored to serve as the Chair of our local Board of Directors in this milestone year. From our humble beginnings in 1922, the United Way of Central Illinois has transformed the lives of countless individuals and families in Sangamon and Menard counties.
Our legacy in the community will continue far beyond this first 100 years. Our mission of improving lives by uniting our community to address the basic needs, education, financial stability, and health of every person is even more important as we continue to see the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our community. Our mission tells only part of the United Way story. As Board Chair, I have made it a priority to visit all our funded programs during my tenure. After I tour each program, I realize that the real life-changing and transformative story is told in the day-to-day actions of the case workers that serve this vulnerable population.
For our 100th year, we are kicking off our workplace giving campaigns a little differently. We are changing the typical formal breakfast format to be more casual and thus hosting a lunch at Motorheads located at 600 Toronto Road in Springfield. The event will be from 11am to 1pm on Thursday, September 8th and include a few fresh ideas that are designed to have attendees engage with each other and the community at large. As I mentioned above, case workers are the heart and soul of the United Way funded programs. Part of our kickoff will be an activity where attendees will pack a self-care bag for local case workers. As Board Chair, I would like to extend an invitation to attend to each of you and hope that you will consider joining us with members of your company to learn more about the mission and vision of United Way. You can register and find out more information on our website: springfieldunitedway.org.
United Way has many ways that you can get involved this fall. The kickoff starts our annual employee giving campaign, so if you are an area employer, I encourage you to learn more about running a company campaign. United Way of Central Illinois runs an open campaign, meaning employees can direct their gift to the Community Fund, any of the United Way’s member agencies, or any IRS recognized 501(c)(3) charity in the United States. Of course, the Community Fund offers the most effective way to support our local nonprofits and meet the many needs which exist in our area. There is no cost to employers, no pressure on employees, and volunteers from companies throughout the area help to organize the campaign.
As we look ahead into fall, this October the United Way has one more way that you can help the community, through our Dine United restaurant partnerships. You may remember this event from a few years ago, and we are bringing it back to celebrate our 100th year. Dine United is a partnership with local restaurants and each Wednesday in October a portion of their sales will be donated to the United Way Community Fund. Keep updated on participating locations on the United Way of Central Illinois website and social media pages. For now, mark you calendars and take a moment to have a family meal out, or invite some friends out to dinner. You can support local restaurants while also giving to local programs.
The purpose of all of these events is to support our community fund. A single fund, providing help to 26 local programs working together to address our most pressing needs. Funded programs are chosen by community volunteers through a rigorous process designed to assure programs are operating effectively and producing measurable results.
In my role as Vice President, Clinical Operations at Memorial Health, I regularly see the need in the community and the gaps that exist for those in need. I am proud of the work that United Way does and look forward to the next 100 years. This organization will live long past each of us, but what we do today will continue to make an impact on lives in our community for years to come.
Evan Davis serves as the chair of the United Way of Central Illinois’ Board of Directors. Visit www.springfieldunitedway.org to learn more. For more updates follow United Way of Central Illinois on social media: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.