United Way serves the entire community
United Way strives to serve every person in every area of our community.
When we say that, it is actually what we mean, in the fullest, most sincere sense of the words.
To some it might just sound like a warm and fuzzy statement. Some might hear that and think it is a lofty and even unattainable goal. It may even sound like a talking point or catchy marketing spin to some.
In actuality, it is simply an all-encompassing statement of who we are and what we do. Our team sees it as our marching orders.
Unfortunately, some people misconstrue the meaning of that simple statement. Some people begin to have a skewed version of what “our community” means. Every person means every person. It means if there is a need that we can address that fits within our mission, then we SHOULD and we WILL. It doesn’t mean every person who has consistently made good decisions. It isn’t every person who makes the decisions we would make. It isn’t every person who has had all of the opportunities I might have had laid out before me. It isn’t every person who has managed to avoid faltering on the path of good plans and solid intentions. It is simply the two words, without qualification…. every person. It isn’t every person who looks like us. It isn’t every person who practices the same faith intentions as us. It isn’t every person who mirrors our lifestyle, education or family structure.
Every person means every person. Period.
When we talk about the community we are not talking about some pie-in-the-sky, hopeful version of what we wish our community was. We aren’t talking about what would be easy and without challenge. We’re talking about the reality of what our community is, in real time. It is the current status of where we are NOW that we must work from.
Community is not a social club and should never be confused with one. The community is not the people that you let in or nudge out. It is not the result of voting people on and off of some proverbial island. The community is the people inside the borders that you have drawn to define the area. Community in these terms is defined as a group of people living in the same place. We do not necessarily get to choose who is in our community. When we say we will serve the community, we have to serve the community that has been delivered up to us. When we say we are committed to helping our community, to strengthening our community, then we have to look at and address the community in its entirety.
United Way has niches, yes. We do focus our dollars and resources heavily on the areas of our community where there are grave and pressing concerns. We do prioritize some missions. We do emphasize assistance for those working hard and falling short, for those in the gap, for those trying to move forward. Every responsible and strategic funding source has niches and priorities. Yet our services, our outreach, our community engagement, it reaches to and wraps around all members of our community — every neighborhood, every corner, every person. Red, blue, green, rainbow … your United Way is here for you. North, south, east, west … your United Way is here for you. Young, old, magnificently middle-aged … you guessed it … we’re here!
United Way strives to serve (and that means connect, advocate for, reach out to, network and collaborate with) EVERY PERSON IN EVERY AREA OF OUR COMMUNITY. We are your first stop, first step, resource. No matter who you are, no matter your street name, no matter what — YOUR United Way is here for you. Always think the United Way first, because I can promise that we always think COMMUNITY FIRST.
Stacy DeCicco is the executive director of the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley.