Opinion

OPINION

Make Investments in Your Community

I have been in my position as president and chief executive officer for the Pioneer Valley United Way for 15 months. During this time, I feel that I have learned as much from my experience as I have contributed to it. Among the many things I have learned is that the success of the work that our United Way does would not be achieved if not for the partnership that we have with our more than 50 member, affiliated, and partner agencies, nor without the scope of services that are provided by their 130 programs and services.

In 2005, the United Way annual campaign raised more money than it did the prior year, and it still was not enough to meet all the challenging needs that our community faces. I have also learned that if we are to be successful and raise the resources that would be necessary to create healthy and strong communities, we will need to do so with the understanding that we are more than just a fundraising entity, but also are an organization that must operate and direct our actions and programs with a set of core values, and with a mission that extends way beyond the work we do through our annual campaign.

Our mission is driven by the need to be able to develop and support effective programs that directly improve the lives of the people in Hampden County, South Hadley and Granby, and that we will do so by providing a commitment to this mission that is grounded in the core values of leadership, integrity, collaboration, and innovation. We provide leadership by serving as a convener, enabler, and a facilitator in addressing community problems, and by educating and bringing together diverse communities around our tables that will help us to promote the work of the United Way, our agencies, and the programs that they provide.

Our second core value suggests that all of this needs to be done with integrity and by serving the communities in which we live and work honestly and with transparent practices. We do so by communicating directly and accurately and by encouraging effective community partnerships to help us carry out our important work. This will be accomplished, as our third core value suggests, by initiating collaborations, strategic partnerships, and community-wide relationships, which have the main goal of providing a catalyst for positive change in our neighborhoods and workplaces.

Finally, we expect that all of our work will be viewed through our final core value of innovation. We want to create value in investments in our work by using the most current technology systems and tools that are available to us that keep our United Way and the work that our agencies do relevant in our community.
At the end of the day, we want to provide an environment that is empowering, that is flexible and that helps us celebrate success.

The United Way campaign will kick off during the month of September at a variety of community-wide events. The goal this year is very simple: To raise more money than we did in 2005.

We also know that whatever it is that we are able to raise will not meet all the needs that our community has. This, together with our move toward impact funding based on the results of our recently completed needs assessment, will help us direct our resources in a way that will provide for strong, healthy and secure communities, and position the Pioneer ValleyUnited Way in partnership with you, our community, to respond quickly and efficiently to the concerns and needs of the larger community.

Your individual or corporate gift to the United Way campaign is the single best investment you can make in helping us reach these lofty goals. We will continue to provide you the accountability and assessment of how your investment is working. Most importantly, this campaign can and will help us create a unified address to the many worthy causes that we face, but with the overriding objective of providing for the well-being of our community and our children’s community.

Joel Weiss is President & CEO of the United Way of Pioneer Valley

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