I will soon celebrate my six-year anniversary at United Way of Southwest Colorado. As expected, the work has been challenging and rewarding.
Often, people thank me for the work I do for the good of the community, but I cannot help but think of all the help I get from so many of you. I remember one of the questions I was asked when I interviewed for this position: “How will you encourage people to give back to people in need?” The answer I gave then is the same answer that I would give now. I would encourage each person should use his or her strengths to give back in the way that best fits.
Many people and businesses give back by making a monetary or in-kind contribution to a charity. These gifts are much appreciated. The fact that many are willing to share this hard-earned money with nonprofits like us is humbling and wonderful.
Another way to give back is to inspire others to give. We are impressed by individuals all over the region who step up in their workplaces to lead a United Way fundraising campaign. Often, they will speak to their co-workers about the importance of giving and set an example by being the first to sign up.
Volunteering time and talent is a wonderful way to give back. At United Way, we are so thankful for those who help at our events. We appreciate our Board of Directors, Finance Committee, Community Investment Committee workers and many more.
Another way to help is to learn about issues important to the community and help advocate for solutions. There are task forces and community conversations and other ways to share your thoughts and ideas. These discussions are not always easy, but thoughtful feedback is critical to building long-term positive change.
One underappreciated way many give back is by working hard to create opportunities for others to succeed. This includes business owners who create jobs and provide mentoring and training. Paying taxes helps to provide public assistance options for many who need some help. We also thank landlords who offer their properties for subsidized housing to help make sure everyone has a place to call home.
We want to thank those who give back by creating policies, directing resources and improving systems to make things work better for the people who live here. Many people in our government offices work hard to help the community as a whole.
Finally, we thank those professionals who work in nonprofits. Our community would not be the same without their expertise, patience and professionalism in helping us build better lives.
These ways of giving back are not mutually exclusive, and this list is not exhaustive. Many of you are participating in at least one of these activities. I would like to challenge you all to consider adding at least one more of these methods to your list this year – expand how you give back, and we will build a stronger community in which everyone has the opportunity to succeed. Thank you for Living United.
Lynn Urban is president and CEO of United Way of Southwest Colorado.