The temperature is getting cooler, the days are getting the shorter, it’s quickly becoming one of the best times of the year. And before we get all excited about the latest pumpkin spice confection, I am talking about our community’s annual United Way campaigns.
Here in Miami County, we have three local United Way campaigns that are managed by great professionals and lead by an army of dedicated individuals that recognize that together, our collective efforts can make a difference for those people that all too often are living in the storms of life.
As part of my day job, I am blessed to be the executive director of The New Path, Inc. Our faith-based non-profit organization prides itself in working with people to help them out of darkness of their past and empower them to embrace the greatness of their tomorrows. One of the ways we do this is through our food pantry.
Our pantry is open four days a week and in an average week we will see a few hundred people come through our doors. And some times, I will have the chance to walk around and introduce myself to those that we are called to serve.
Each and every day these people truly amaze me. On the surface, these people look just like you and me. Some are younger, some are older. Some are healthy, some need the help of a cane or walker to get around. But all of them have value and all of them have dignity.
And unless you take time to sit and talk to these individuals, you may not fully understand what is happening to these folks. The conversations I have with these individuals reveal stories of domestic violence, job loss, loss of a loved one or mental health issues. It’s through these stories that I can begin to fully understand that what we are doing isn’t just feeding someone physically, we are becoming a lifeline for those that need it the most. Our warm smiles and hearty handshakes might be the only outward sign of love and compassion these folks would experience the day they were with us.
Our local industries and businesses, our public service institutions, our residents, all play a pivotal role in the success of our United Way. Through the United Way, our community is a stronger place where those that need help can get it, whether it be a safe night in a domestic violence shelter, a special camp for children dealing with loss, or a new book for a child learning to read. Your generosity touches lives every day.
And perhaps the hidden secret that makes all of our United Way agencies work is that we all know each other and we work together. I would dare say that none of our agencies treat the United Way as a way to get more resources at the disadvantage of another agency.
Rather, all our agencies are well aware of what we each do and we complement each other. When those that need help come to us, all of our agencies work together to help that person, that family get the help they need to have a better tomorrow. Friends, that doesn’t happen just anywhere; but it happens right here in Miami County.
When you support your local United Way campaign, you aren’t just helping an agency, you aren’t just helping your business meet a goal. You are equipping an entire army of people that ready to serve those that need hope in every corner of our community.
We can only do this work with your help. This season as you drive around and see the United Way thermometers around town or you see the pledge cards at your workplace or you see the signs around town, I want you to remember through your generous contributions, you can be part of the love and compassion and generosity that our communities are known for.
Please, take a moment and be a part of something so great and so awesome. Be a part of the story that allows someone to find a new hope. Be a part of something that is bigger than yourself. Be a part of your local United Way!
William “Bill” Lutz is executive director of The New Path Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.