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New campaign evokes anticipation, excitement

Do you remember the early morning, night before the first day of school, the nervous stomach feeling? I sure do!

That feeling of jitters in the pit of my stomach. A hybrid of excitement and edgy anticipation. An eagerness to return, yet the slightly apprehensive feeling that you weren’t sure exactly how this new year would be. I was the child who loved school. From the time school was out in June until the break ended early September, my favorite thing to play… was school!

So that feeling of anticipation and apprehension never came from a place of dread or fear. Fortunately for me, school was a consistently happy place and truly positive experience. Yet somehow on the night before, raising butterflies always filled my core. It wasn’t a feeling of nervousness because I wasn’t prepared. I was a blessed child who always had a new “first day of school” outfit. On the night before the first day, my backpack would’ve been packed. My lunch arrangements concreted. I would have known the number of my school bus, what time it was to arrive, who my teacher was going to be. I was as confident as any child could have been returning to school.

Yet the butterflies came; they always came. The churning anxious feeling that made it hard to eat breakfast first morning. The fluttering sensation that something great was about to start yet I didn’t know the exact details and I wasn’t sure precisely how it would all unfold. I knew I couldn’t wait to be a part of it, yet I knew those first steps in those early moments would be propelled by some high-strung adrenaline.

As our United Way sits on the eve of another campaign launch, I feel those familiar flutters in my stomach. There is a bit of deja-vu in my central nervous system. While we have officially been in campaign since the day after the last official close (remember, we live on a hamster wheel here!), next week will be the official community kick off. Next week will begin the race for the goal. That butterfly sensation is back in my stomach; there is a powerful mix of excitement and productive nervousness. So much rests on the shoulders of our team.

A successful United Way campaign is critical for this community. So many people are counting on our success. Period. In my heart I know we are ready. Just like the childhood of my summer, the time between official close and now has been busy, intentional, and stepping consistently towards preparedness. Every moment since we announced the $1 million record-breaking campaign last spring has been filled with thoughts and plans for how to ensure that we can do that again. We are ready, and we are excited. We feel blessed every day for the opportunity. To make impact and create change in the community that we love.

Just like the school child starting the new year, we recognize that there are unknowns in our immediate path. We recognize that there will be countless challenges, goals, and at times, heartbreaking setbacks.

Next week we will step forward as a team. We will step forward with purpose and a plan. We will step forward knowing that what we do matters to so many. Most of all, we will step forward with the hope and belief that many will join us on our journey. We will look for supporters and cheerleaders along the route. Those who walk beside with encouragement and those who stand behind and propel us towards the goal.

A child’s school year cannot be successful without supports. Supports that are intentional, from like-minded, compassionate people with a shared vision and common desire for the best possible results. We are not unlike that school child. We cannot accomplish our goals alone. We need a team of supporters, a system of scaffolding and a village of champions. We need game changers. We need difference makers. We need you!

We sit on the eve of a very big week. The big week is just the beginning of a monumental journey. This is a chance for everyone to make a difference. This is a chance for every voice to be heard. We are ready for that first, long anticipated day — butterflies and all!

Stacy DeCicco is executive director of the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley, located at 935 Market St., Parkersburg.

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