Their view: ‘Leveling the mountain with a teaspoon’

Bill Jones - Guest Columnist | December 16th, 2017 12:45 am

Just before Thanksgiving, a colleague and I had the opportunity to appear on WILK’s Sue Henry Radio Show to talk about the good work of the United Way of Wyoming Valley. Sue Henry is a huge fan of our strategic focus on childhood poverty, and it is always a pleasure to be in her company or on her show.

A couple of hours after the show, I bumped into a friend who is a generous United Way donor and a longtime human service professional. My friend caught the radio interview and told me that he really appreciates our mission as well. He said that the more he learns about the United Way, the happier he is to support the organization. During our conversation, he talked about the enormous challenge it is to attempt to reduce childhood poverty in the Wyoming Valley and compared our work to “leveling a mountain with a teaspoon.”

While “leveling a mountain with a teaspoon” seems like an impossible task, my wise friend certainly wasn’t attempting to be discouraging. He said, “The secret to ‘leveling the mountain with a teaspoon’ is to encourage thousands of others to pick up a spoon as well, and the United Way has the credibility and passion to do just that. The United Way is making a difference one spoonful and one child at a time.”

As the holidays are upon us and the calendar year comes to a close, our annual United Way workplace campaign is wrapping up as well. I am thrilled and grateful that thousands of people have already pledged support to help our community “level the mountains” of childhood poverty, hunger, abuse and neglect, academic attainment, and many other needs. So much more needs to be done, however, and I am respectfully calling on thousands more to also help if you can.

As a root cause of so many other issues and human service need, childhood poverty is among the most pressing concerns impacting our community’s future. Poverty is a thief … it robs children of opportunity, potential and their future. Additionally, every year in Luzerne County, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on human service need, medical care, and criminal justice costs related to issues of poverty. Research tells us that a good percentage of those expenses could be avoided if we invest in children and families earlier in life.

The United Way network is built on the premise that together we can solve even the most difficult problems of our community. In the Wyoming Valley, we are looking to go beyond temporary fixes to create lasting change, and we are forming really effective partnerships to make that change happen. Because of our donors, volunteers and partners, the lives of children and families will be different and our community will be stronger as a result. I would like to invite you to be part of it. Please visit or call me if you can support the United Way campaign.

I certainly understand and appreciate the concept of helping one child at a time, but I am not sure if you can really level a mountain with a teaspoon or even several thousand teaspoons. Yet, a very long time ago, a wise carpenter and teacher once suggested that mountains could be moved with faith. In this season of holy days, I believe and I am hopeful.

Have a very joyous holiday season, the happiest of New Years, and thank you for your support in helping to move mountains.

Bill Jones, president and CEO of the United Way of the Wyoming Valley will be one of the panelists at the 'Children in Poverty' discussion May 1 at Misericordia University in Dallas. Jones, president and CEO of the United Way of the Wyoming Valley will be one of the panelists at the 'Children in Poverty' discussion May 1 at Misericordia University in Dallas.

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 encourages officials from area nonprofits to submit guest columns. Columns should be emailed to [email protected]