What is United Way and How Does it Help Our Community?

As the first “official” week of the community campaign is wrapping up, United Way is excited to announce pledges totaling $1,263,093, representing 28% of the overall goal of raising $4.5 million.

As many organizations are running campaigns and others are launching soon, you might be wondering: “What is United Way?”

When you look out at the community, it can be hard to see how one person can make a difference. You might ask yourself “What are the most pressing needs? What can I do to help? How do I know that my time or investment is creating change?”

That’s the beauty of United Way.

“United Way invests in the issues that you and I care about,” shared Jon Lynch, 2019 Campaign Chair. “The financial commitment in United Way is an investment in the future of our community and it produces proven results that you can see in the outcomes each year.”

United Way brings our community together to improve lives. They amplify individual passion to take on our toughest challenges—together. They don’t focus on a single issue because change is bigger than one organization or program.

People are complex, and so are the challenges that they face. United Way shines a light on three pillars: Youth Success, Health and Household Stability—the building blocks for a good life.

Youth Success works to ensure that our kids are equipped for success from birth through career, recognizing education is the cornerstone of individual and community success. It opens kids up to a world of possibilities and builds confidence, skills and a foundation for the future. It is crucial to reach kids before they start school and support our kids by walking beside classroom teachers throughout their education. Once a child falls behind, it can be difficult to catch up.

The Health pillar ensures individuals and families are healthy and safe, recognizing the health of our citizens is a strong indicator of a thriving community. Achieving and maintaining safety along with physical and mental health is important in all stages of life and reaches beyond clinical care. Research shows that social, economic and health behaviors contribute up to 70% of an individual’s long-term health outcomes.

Household Stability ensures individuals and families have long-term stability and independence. Our community thrives when everyone is empowered and equipped for success. With the right tools, individuals and families can secure good jobs, safe and affordable housing, success for children and achieve financial stability. While they’re getting there, it’s vital to have a safety net to meet their needs on their path toward independence.

United Way measure success in how lives are changed and they do not do this work alone. They partner with 26 dedicated nonprofits and invest in quality programs that show measurable outcomes every year. Together, they create new solutions to old problems and join with people from all walks of life to put those solutions into action.

“You may not realize that volunteers determine how the community’s investment will be allocated,” shared Holly Miller, Executive Director of United Way of Midland County. “Each year our volunteer panels invest nearly 30 hours reviewing applications, posing questions and hearing from our partners. Based on what they learn, these volunteers make funding recommendations to the United Way board.”

This process ensures that there is a high level of accountability and demonstrates the impactful ways that lives are being changed by the community’s investment.

“We make it easier to make a difference, whether it’s through time, money or lifting your voice,” shared Miller. “Everyone is invited to be a part of the change.”

To learn more about United Way, check out the video at unitedwaymidland.org/videos.

For more information about how you can help improve lives in our community, visit unitedwaymidland.org.