Opinion

United Way Merits Strong Support

Our community is filled with people, companies, and organizations who’ve proven they’re willing to do what it takes to help improve the lives of those in need while also investing in our community’s future. Last year alone, countless lives were improved by the generosity shown throughout our community, with an amazing $6.1 million given to the United Way of Pioneer Valley Campaign. We asked for everyone to give 110%, and many of you stepped up to meet the challenge.
One year later, we’ve made a lot of progress together, but there is more to be done. Just a few months ago, residents in our area faced tragedy and devastation. On June 1, three tornadoes ripped through our area, leaving a trail of destruction, crumpling homes, businesses, and schools. United Way of Pioneer Valley immediately took responsibility for the coordination of local volunteer services and partnered with a national organization, All Hands Volunteers, to support regional volunteerism. We assisted local chapters of organizations such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army in the identification and matching of volunteers for immediate relief, and we continue to work with local organizations to provide volunteer support to recovery efforts.
Additionally, we established a tornado-recovery fund in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Western Mass. that has raised $300,000. To date, our allocation team has awarded more than $125,000 to local organizations assisting individuals impacted by the tornado, and will continue to focus its efforts on the unmet needs of local residents.
The reverberations from the tornadoes are still being felt in the Pioneer Valley and will forever change the landscape of our community. As we get ready to start up our 2011 campaign, we are committed to fulfill the long-term response strategy to the needs that will continue to emerge in the coming weeks and months.
At the same time, we must face the issues of our community that were present before our area was faced with natural disaster. We will face these issues with the same hope, optimism, and courage that we always have with a new conviction of determination.
Far too many families are in need of food and shelter, and too many of our children arrive unprepared for school and later struggle to make it to their high-school graduation.
We, as a community, are the only ones who can make a change for the better. Everyone deserves the opportunity to have a good life, a quality education that leads to a stable job, enough income to support a family through retirement, and good health. UWPV supports a powerful network of agencies and programs that help people meet the essential human needs of life each day, and often they do it with too few resources.
We have a great challenge ahead, and we need your help to improve lives and our community. Your decision to give to the United Way is critical to the future of our community.
There are many ways to give — you can give your time, you can lend your voice and advocate for others, and you can give financially. You can find these opportunities on our Web site at www.uwpv.org. Your decision to get involved will impact the lives of the men, women, and children in our community that we pass on the street each day. So please give what you can, when you can.
If you’re someone who has given to us in previous years, thank you. If you’re just joining the United Way family, welcome.We need everyone, because we’re stronger together.

Dora D. Robinson is President and CEO of United Way of Pioneer Valley.

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