The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

December 16, 2013

United Way aids many people

United Way column

By Frank Wood

— Most of us have heard of the United Way, but we all may not be aware of how its operations benefit so many people in our community.

One of the local United Way’s main goals is to advance the common good through a focused community impact, doing so with a paid three-person staff, unselfish volunteers and nonprofit partners who continually monitor local economic conditions, while at the same time annually conducting the area’s largest fundraising event to provide for the neediest among us.

In our five-county area of Raleigh, Fayette, Summers, Nicholas, and Wyoming, the United Way assists people in dozens of worthy programs, from the Women’s Resource Center, Family Resource Network in Nicholas County, Children’s Home Society of WV, Fayette Starting Points, Summers County Council On Aging, Pine Haven Homeless Services and many other worthy nonprofit agencies.

This year the United Way of Southern West Virginia looks to raise $525,000, which will benefit disadvantaged families of our area.

With its “Live United” theme, advancing the common good is less about helping one person at a time and more about working with partners and volunteers to reach the greatest number of persons in need. To do this, the United Way focuses on three essential building blocks for quality of life:

- Education is essential to getting and keeping a job with a livable wage and health benefits.

- Income that is adequate to pay for today’s necessities and save for the future provides families with a path to financial stability.

- Health, enabled by access to quality health care, keeps children on track in school and adults productive at work.

But again, the backbone of the United Way is the many volunteers who strive to improve the overall state of affairs in one or more of three ways:

- Giving by making financial contributions, typically through payroll deduction every month;

- Volunteering their time in many ways to enable the system to work; some people help raise money during the annual campaign, others work to identify community needs;

- Advocating the “Live United” theme and supporting the United Way initiatives, programs and the overall philosophy of raising the quality of life in our community.

Thus, with its small staff supplemented by an array of volunteers, the United Way of Southern West Virginia is a group of local citizens committed to making southern West Virginia a great place to live and work for everyone. By being united, we work to make the best use of the benefits from our contributions and partner agencies for everyone’s benefit.

But the only way the United Way of Southern West Virginia can raise this year’s goal of $525,000 to help the neediest in the community to maintain or achieve a decent quality of life is through the generosity of thousands of contributors.

Not only does the United Way ask people annually to make a fiscal sacrifice for the less fortunate among us, but it also thanks all contributors for their wonderful generosity.

Through your single gift, you are providing the broadest possible support to the neediest programs in the area.

The United Way of Southern West Virginia appreciates every gift of every size, and we clearly recognize that many of you are making annual gifts during tough economic times. To all of you, we express our sincerest appreciation and ask that you continue to be generous.

We have found most people to be willing to give when they recognize a good cause that is helping genuinely needy families right here in our community. We encourage everyone to give their fair share.

Making a pledge to the United Way is quick and easy and can be done either online (http://unitedwayswv.org), through a simple call (304-253-2111) or to our United Way office (P.O. Box 5456, Beckley, WV 25801).

— United Way of Southern West Virginia 2013-2014 Campaign Chair Frank Wood is publisher of Beckley Newspapers.