Stand up for children of Wyoming Valley

Bill Jones - Guest Columnist | October 7th, 2017 10:55 am

Those who know me, even just a little bit, know I love my job at the United Way of Wyoming Valley. I am passionate about our community and believe our mission of helping at-risk children and families living in poverty is just, powerful and meaningful.

We are about a month into our annual campaign season. As most can imagine, raising $3.5 million every year is a huge challenge. Every campaign, and this year will be no exception, I give 60 to 80 presentations about our work in an attempt to solicit the support needed to help improve the odds of success for local children and families in need.

As I wrap up my presentations, I am always happy to answer questions anyone may have about the work we do. I even enjoy answering the tough questions so that potential donors know exactly what we are trying to accomplish and how their gifts really make a difference.

This year, I was asked a question I was never asked before. A donor wanted to know, “Do you stand or kneel?” Yikes!

This question, obviously, was about the current and hotly debated controversy in the National Football League and the implications it has on the issues of patriotism and social justice.

While I am missing the old days when I could simply turn on ESPN to get caught up on the scores and be entertained by the highlights of the games, here’s my very personal answer to the stand or kneel question — Yes, to both!

As CEO of the United Way of Wyoming Valley, every day I stand for the children of our community, and every day, I kneel in gratitude for all those who help us help kids.

That’s my story, and I am sticking to it! I know that this avoids the whole NFL debacle, but as opposed to debating the motives, intentions or politics of others, I would rather choose to spend my time trying to improve the community I call home, and I cannot think of a better way to do that by than helping children, empowering parents, and strengthening families.

Last year, through the services we fund and the programs we operate, more than 15,000 Wyoming Valley children benefited by the support the United Way received from our donors. That is a lot of impact, and I am very grateful for the kindness and generosity of every single donor who supports this important work.

Although I am very proud of what is being accomplished, there is still much more to do. Raising graduation rates, improving grade-level reading, preventing child abuse and neglect, reducing addictions, and developing a skilled workforce are some of the many goals the United Way of Wyoming Valley is pursuing to help children and families and improve our community.

To all those who read these editorials and know my passion, if your children are doing well, have good health, have or are getting a good education, and live in a financially stable household, take a knee in thanksgiving and gratitude. After you do that, I then invite you to stand with the United Way. Let’s do what we can to help all kids throughout Wyoming Valley have those same opportunities. Together, we can change lives.

This is what it means to “Live United” and, to me, that would be much better than any ESPN highlight show.

Thank you for your support.

Bill Jones

Guest Columnist

Bill Jones is President and CEO at United Way of Wyoming Valley. He can be reached at 829-6711, ext. 1230. The Times Leader invites officials at area nonprofits to submit guest columns. Send submissions to [email protected]