United Way always busy

People often ask us when the “down time” comes at our United Way. They typically speculate that summer is a time of quiet in our office; they think that we are in post campaign mode and must finally have a chance to catch up a bit.

Most are surprised to learn that really isn’t the case. Summer at United Way is a full picnic plate, loaded with fun, deadlines and lots of activities! It kicks off each year on the very first day of the summer. June 21 is one of our annual signature days when workplace teams from all over the MOV to spend the day in service to their community. Day of Action is one of our favorite days of the year; watching the impact fold is nothing short of amazing. This year more than 250 volunteers gave an excess of 1,500 hours of service in a single day to the MOV. Coordinating that service day starts back in the early spring to ensure that all of the teams are matched with engaging projects. Nonprofit organizations most typically run on shoe string budgets that focus the bulk of their resources on their mission in the community; it leaves very little if any resources for projects that in the private sector often seem typical, even mundane. Things like landscaping, painting, even donation sorting simply don’t always fit into fiscal budgets or staffing plans. Day of Action helps to meet this need and makes an immeasurable difference for so many organizations.

As soon as Day of Action wraps up, our United Way team shifts into backpack mode. Our Back to School Initiative will have our team out attending 15 events this August. They anticipate distributing more than 3,000 backpacks this year to help ensure that children in the Mid-Ohio Valley are equipped for the start of a new school year. In addition to the backpacks, classroom kits and children’s books are distributed to dozens of teachers and hundreds of children. Our team will spend a tremendous amount of time packing, repacking, loading and unloading these materials … and they will travel hundreds of miles visiting all nine of our counties. We love every minute of it as it is such a terrific way to spend time in our community, really getting to know the people we serve.

In addition to backpack season, this summer also brings a new event to the United Way summer schedule. For the first time ever, we are holding a 5K Color Run and Family Health Expo at the Parkersburg City Park. Runners, joggers, walkers and volunteers are welcome and appreciated. The Health Expo will include an inflatables area for the kids and free demo classes from several area exercise instructors. It will be a day full of healthy living promotions and so much fun!

While all of this fun is happening, our team is already hard at work preparing to launch our next annual campaign in early September. The annual campaign is the core of our fundraising effort The ability to continue funding local organizations and programs is completely dependent upon the success of the campaign year after year. There is no carry over. The money is raised every year … and given away every year.

When I think about all that goes into planning and executing the challenging work of the United Way, I am grateful to our very committed staff, volunteers and donors. Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity once said, “For a community to be whole and healthy, it must be based on people’s love and concern for each other.” Those are pretty profound words and I truly believe they reflect the aspirations of this United Way. By LIVING UNITED, we can all put our love and concern into action and help our community be more whole and healthy. While summer is a whirlwind of sorts for us, it is a critical time for us to bridge connections, strengthen friendships and to bring lasting impact into our community. There is no down time, no off season … we are always LIVING UNITED.

Stacy DeCicco is executive director of the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley.

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