UW Sunday Column 8-3-14: Working together for more hopeful futures

Emily Rabin
As originally published in the State Journal-Register, Our Towns section

Rabin_HeadshotThe beginning of August represents a time of celebration in our community.

Summer programs are coming to an end, families are preparing their children for the upcoming school year and later this week, the Illinois State Fair will bring our community together to showcase the best of Illinois.

In addition, August represents a time of renewed hope for the thousands of individuals and families in need throughout our area because August represents the unofficial kickoff to United Way’s 2014 Campaign for the Common Good.

Although this year’s campaign does not officially begin until our Kickoff Breakfast on Sept. 10, during August, our local agencies and eleven local employers step forward to run their company campaigns early and set the pace for our community.

As the director of resource development at United Way, I experience the wonderful work of our local nonprofit community every day. I often wish that every member of our community could experience this work and see just how closely our local agencies, community leaders and business leaders are working together to determine and address the changing needs of our community.
I wish every person could experience this work because I firmly believe that we become inspired to give back to our community, not by reading a brochure, written policy or presentation, but rather by our personal experiences.

We live in a wonderful community, but like any community we have challenges which we must face. Many of these challenges have always existed and in one form or another will always exist.

However, working together, we can help provide the resources and supports needed to help families in need today and provide our children with the greatest opportunity for a brighter tomorrow.

United Way serves as the catalyst for change in our community, bringing together community leaders, schools, nonprofits and businesses to address the most pressing needs in our area. In addition to financial support through the community fund, United Way provides a platform for nonprofit collaboration, the development of new programs to help families and the promotion of accountability, transparency and efficiency in the delivery services.

At the heart of United Way’s work is the community fund; a single fund, providing help to 38 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.

But United Way’s work is only made possible through your investment in our community. No matter how large or small, your gift makes a difference because it is combined with the gifts of thousands of individuals throughout our community. Individuals who understand that individually our local agencies can treat the symptoms, but working together we can treat the whole. This is value of the community fund…one gift…helping multiple programs…working together to create meaningful change.

Moreover, because of the generosity of several local companies who underwrite United Way’s expenses, 100 percent of every gift to the Community Fund goes directly to local programs. Meaning every penny of your investment goes to where it is needed most and stays local.

As our Pacesetters begin their campaigns, I would encourage everyone to visit United Way of Central Illinois’ website and learn more about their wonderful work in our community, the difference your investment in the community fund is making and United Way’s commitment to transparency and financial accountability.

If you’re an area employer, I would 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 United Way’s member agencies or any IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) charity in United States.

Of course, the Community Fund offers the most effective way to help our local nonprofit 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.

So, as we enter August, thank you again to our local agencies and this year’s Pacesetters companies: Bank of Springfield; Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce; Hanson Professional Services; Illini Bank; Illinois National Bank; Kerber, Eck & Braeckel; Memorial Health Systems; Scheels; Sikich; Springfield Electric and Town & Country Bank.

Emily Rabin is the director of resource development at United Way of Central Illinois. Visit www.springfieldunitedway.org to learn more. Look for United Way columns weekly in Our Towns.

Read the column as originally published in the SJ-R: http://www.sj-r.com/article/20140803/News/140809887