Opinion

Make Investments in a Healthy Community

Neal Lane, an advisor to President Bill Clinton, once commented in a speech, “It is only by building a sense of teamwork and community that we can overcome the unexpected detours and hurdles we encounter on our own journey and gain satisfaction that ought to derive from such achievements. Those organizations that prepare themselves for the unexpected and help to build a sense of community will become the leaders of the 21st century.”

The United Way is one of those organizations.
Recently, our community has responded well to the unexpected. More importantly, a strong sense of community has emerged from all the efforts to assist the Hurricane Katrina victims. We are proud of our Red Cross chapters, our Salvation Army Corp., and the many other organizations and individuals that responded so passionately to this human crisis.

A crisis of this magnitude captures everyone’s attention, as it should. But it’s important to remember that the same organizations that responded so well to Katrina are working hard every day in our community, alleviating the individual crises we all have in our lives. United Way of Pioneer Valley is helping to lead that network of agencies and programs. Many of those agencies depend on the success of our annual fund drive to run the programs that serve our community.

Our mission has always been to strengthen our community by empowering every individual. United Way’s goal is to create a community where all of our citizens are valued; where diversity becomes a strength; where the voiceless are heard; where children have opportunities to grow into productive, responsible adults; where we can all live in a community that is safe.

A healthy community requires a healthy partnership between the United Way and its 57 partner agencies and we’re proud to foster that partnership every day. We want people to know that our service area may include 23 cities and towns, but we serve every citizen that reaches out for help.

Our United Way campaign kicked off on Sept. 9 with a goal of $6.5 million. We know this is not nearly enough to meet all the pressing needs that our community faces. Still, together we have a responsibility to provide the financial resources necessary to create a strong, healthy, and secure community in order to be able to respond to the concerns and needs of our larger community.

Your individual and corporate gifts to the United Way campaign are the single best investments you can make toward reaching the goal of a healthy community.

United Way will provide you, the donor, the accountability and the assessment of how your investment is working. It can also provide the information you need to make prudent decisions about how to distribute your financial resources. But most importantly, this campaign can and will help unite us in a worthy cause; the wellbeing of our community and our children’s community.

The Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation has generously offered to match every new and increased leadership donation of $1,000 or more to the annual campaign. Please help us reach our goal by doubling your gift this year through this wonderful matching grant.

What we do know is that we must throw aside everything that is dull, motionless, and backward looking. Together, as partners, we need to see and embrace new ways and new solutions to our needs and problems. We need to understand that, if we do business today as we did yesterday, we are bound to lose; if we do business tomorrow as we do today, we will surely be doomed.

If you own or manage a local business that does not participate in United Way, we hope you will consider joining our community of business partners. It will strengthen our community and your business. We can’t thank you enough for your generous support in past years and hope that you will join us in a successful campaign this year.-

Joel Weiss is president & CEO of United Way of Pioneer Valley; (413) 737-2691.

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