CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- At almost every turn we hear about economic problems that will affect our community and our country. The "fiscal cliff," $16 trillion in national debt, unemployment rate and other factors are in our face every day. And, if we are paying attention, it is obvious that our current conditions will cause the flow of federal funds coming to our area to diminish. How will we react? How will we cope? How will we continue to have a community that is strong and caring? As West Virginians, we know how: Teamwork.
We see it all the time on the field, court, in the office, or neighborhood. Success is all about TEAMWORK. More can be achieved by a group working together than could ever be accomplished by any one individual working alone. Are you on the team?
Each year the United Way of Central West Virginia, and other United Ways across our state and country, conduct fundraising campaigns. The proceeds support nonprofit organizations that provide programs and services to <I>local<P> individuals and families faced with a crisis. For example, during the past year more than 68,000 individuals in Boone, Clay, Kanawha, Logan and Putnam counties received assistance from one of 26 agencies supported by United Way of Central WV through our Give Where You Live campaign.
Here is where the teamwork comes in. United Way partner agencies work together to provide a variety of services to individuals in need. One agency or program cannot do it all, so clients are referred to other agencies for the assistance. A shelter program refers a client to a medical clinic for care. That same client may then be referred to a counseling program or for emergency financial aid. Working together means no one agency needs to do it all, but each one does its part. That's the defense, and it makes this community a better place to live and work. We provide the offense in the form of contributions, volunteer time, in-kind donations, etc. And, like any good team, it all works great until someone "drops the ball."
As a community member, the most rewarding part of my work is coming in contact with individuals who understand being part of a community and get involved. Once fully informed, most everyone I know will spring into action the best way they can. On the other hand, the most discouraging part of my work is hearing people say "that's not my problem," or "I can't do anything to help." The dollar in your pocket won't even buy a bottle of pop, but in the hands of a social service director, that dollar turns into more than $20 worth of local services! That is quite a return on your investment.
Being part of the community team means everyone is involved at a level that fits their lifestyle and budget and where everyone does something. That's where United Way steps in to provide a great way to join and be part of the team. Giving through United Way gives the donor an opportunity to support multiple programs, multiple individuals, and multiple issues impacting the community all at the same time. Our ability to work across complex issues with other community partners is unique. We mobilize volunteers and convene partner agencies, corporations, community leaders and policymakers to make broad, systemic changes like no other organization can on its own. Programs supported through United Way help people in crisis get back on their feet, prevent future problems and build a stronger community for all of us.
We all have a vested interest in the financial, physical, and mental health of our community. Whether you are a concerned individual, employee of a local company, an organization that could provide corporate support or a retired citizen just wanting to help, we need you on the team! It doesn't take a lot, and it's certainly not hard. All it takes is commitment and a willingness to do the right thing. As you make decisions in the coming weeks about your family or personal future, keep in mind that giving through United Way is the most effective way to help our whole community.
Join the United Way team and LIVE UNITED! The result will be a better community that continues to be a great place to live and work ... and a place you are proud to call home.
More information on how to support the community and agencies funded through United Way can be found at unitedwaycwv.org or by calling 304-340-3500.
Ballengee is president of United Way of Central West Virginia.