Thankful for a better tomorrow

As originally published in the State Journal-Register.

In the coming weeks, many of us will gather with friends and family to give thanks for the relationships which give meaning to our lives. The holidays provide the perfect time for us to reflect on the past and express gratitude for the support of our friends, family, and neighbors.

As an organization and community, we have much to be thankful for this holiday season. Thanks to the support of our community, our local nonprofits weathered the challenges of the past 18 months and continue to provide hope for a brighter tomorrow to thousands of our neighbors. As a community, we’re fortunate to have neighbors who step forward to give, volunteer and advocate to lift up those who find themselves in need.

On behalf of the board of directors, volunteers and staff at United Way, we’re thankful to our friends, volunteers, and donors for their commitment to our community and support during the past year.

For me, this time of year and the generosity of our neighbors is inspiring and during this time of good will, I hope our community can unite in pursuit of a better tomorrow.

This year’s United Way campaign co-chairs, Superintendent Jennifer Gill and Terrance Jordan, have shared their belief that we are better together, and that together we can create a better tomorrow. In many ways, the holiday season is the perfect time to come together as we lend our support to causes and organizations who are working to make our community a better place to live, work and raise a family.

As you consider giving and volunteering this holiday season, I challenge you to consider how you can make a more meaningful impact on the lives of your neighbors. Consider both a gift to help those in crisis today, but also one which provides for the long term supports needed to help other break free from poverty. Perhaps it’s a gift to support a work skills training program, a mental health program, or an after-school program. I would encourage you to learn more about how United Way is addressing the needs of our community through its work in the areas of basic needs, education, financial stability, and health.

Whether you make a gift to United Way, one of our issue areas, or any of our local organizations, please know that your gift is deeply appreciated. To assist you in planning your charitable giving this holiday season, I wanted to offer a few simple tips:

  • Research the charity or program before considering a gift. Websites like guidestar.org can help you verify the legitimate tax status of an organization and provide access to IRS provided tax returns and other financial information.
  • Know what your gift will support. Legitimate, well-run charities welcome the opportunity to discuss how your gift will help and will gladly provide information on the impact of your gift.
  • Involve your children by teaching them about importance of community, philanthropy and volunteering. Teach them not to judge others, but to seek to understand the challenges others may be facing.
  • Don’t stretch your own pocketbook in the name of generosity. One of our priorities as an organization is to help individuals obtain and maintain financial stability. Our hope is for families to live within their means, including giving within their means.
  • Finally, remember that the needs of our community extend beyond the end of the year. If you are considering a year-end gift to a local organization, consider the value of establishing a monthly (or per paycheck) gift.

Thank you again for your past support of United Way, our partners, and all our local nonprofit organizations. If you know someone in need of help this holiday season, please encourage them to call our 24/7 referral line at 2-1-1 or 1-888-865-9903.

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