By the time my next opinion column is written and printed in November, the 2013 United Way of Wyoming Valley campaign will be just about wrapped up and some in the news media likely will be reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy.
I was less than a week old when JFK was killed. While I cannot recall his presidency, of course, it is probably safe to assume that given the discourse in Washington, D.C., these days, many miss the leadership, courage and common sense for which President Kennedy was known and is remembered.
Recently, I was given the opportunity to speak to the faculty in the Pittston Area School District about the United Way. Just as I was walking into the high school auditorium, it was hard not to notice a large sign near the entrance.
It read: “It is the greatest mistake of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little. Do what you can! One person can make a difference and every person should try. — JFK.”
Often in my columns I write about the interconnectedness we share in the Wyoming Valley; that we are all travelers on life’s journey; that we are “in this together;” and, as President Kennedy reminds us, each of us, even if we can only do a little, can make a difference. To me, these themes capture the essence of the United Way and the spirit of what it means to LIVE UNITED.
This year is my second as the organization’s chief professional officer. As I campaign at supportive workplaces and talk with individual donors, what I hear so often is that many of us are genuinely concerned with the ever-increasing human service need in our community and becoming frustrated with “quick fixes” and “Band-Aid” approaches to pressing social problems.
Despite having busy lives and limited time and resources, we care about our neighbors and others in need. Not only do we want to see things change, many of us are willing to be part of the solution, even if we can only do a little. By reaching out our hand to one, we can influence the conditions for all.
Through a very dynamic strategic planning process, the Board of Directors of the United Way of Wyoming Valley is chartering a new course for lasting change in our community. While the United Way’s mission to improve lives will never change, our goal is to better understand and address the underlying causes of human service need in the Wyoming Valley.
We want to ensure that your support and volunteer efforts over time have the most impact. We all win when children succeed in school, when families are financially stable and when communities are healthy, connected and engaged. Living united means being a part of the change. It takes all of us, working together, to create a brighter future.
As the 2013 United Way campaign sprints to the finish line, we invite you to join us and to do what you can. Please make your pledge today by calling 570-829-6711 or visiting our website at www.unitedwaywb.org.
You are one person, but in the uncommon wisdom and inspiration of the 35th president of the United States, you are one person who can make a difference. On behalf of the community we call home, we sure hope you try.