The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 4, 2013

Facts, figures help identify funding priorities, needs

United Way column

By Frank Wood

— The United Way of Southern West Virginia understands the value of studying our community’s needs.

In fact, we commit a major portion of staff time and other resources to learning more about our region’s demographics, economic conditions and quality of life.

The facts and figures we obtain are used to help us identify funding priorities, emerging needs and growing trends.

Volunteers and partners of the United Way of Southern West Virginia realize that to create positive change, we need to get to the root cause of our most critical needs. It’s not enough to find shelter for a family, but to change the condition that led to homelessness in the first place.

This requires the work of our entire community. All this is done in collaboration with our community partners: businesses, nonprofit agencies, schools, labor groups, government, neighborhood associations, faith-based organizations and many others.

A strong, thriving community is important to all of us. The United Way measures results so that donors and volunteers know their contributions are having the greatest impact in people’s lives and strengthening our communities.

Today, the focus of the United Way is to improve the lives of children, families and seniors in our societies.

We strive to make sure children are ready to learn, families are safe and self-sufficient and seniors remain independent and active.

We reach our goals by bringing together business leaders, donors, neighborhoods, and the 34 nonprofit partner agencies. These community members help identify our community’s most critical social concerns. In forming these partnerships, we are better able to address the underlying causes of problems in our community.

At the local United Way office, we work to make sure people get the support services they need while simultaneously addressing the root causes of key issues. That’s how we create true community impact.

We know that by improving education for all children, we’re setting them on the path to high school graduation and college success. We know that those children will go on to hold skilled jobs and be financially prepared to support their families. We know that good health is directly linked to a successful life.

What is more, education is the single most important factor in determining a person’s poverty status. Almost 25 percent of Americans who did not complete high school are living in poverty. A high school dropout is four times more likely to be unemployed than a college or trade school graduate.

The United Way focuses on the underlying causes of problems, brings together resources and a wide range of partners. Later, it tracks outcomes to make sure its efforts are on target.

As a result, the community benefits from teamwork and partnership, improved lives for individuals, and lasting change that will help prevent problems from happening again in the future.

And whether it’s helping a student with his homework, talking about his week or simply reading him a story book, a volunteer can leave a lifelong impression.

The United Way is one of the few organizations that embrace the entire circle of life by focusing on children and youth, families and neighborhoods, seniors and others who are rebuilding their lives.

Through your gifts of time and donations, we are seeing lasting results in our community. And you can be sure that when you give to the United Way of Southern West Virginia, you are supporting solutions that will help solve the problems of our neighbors.

Upcoming Events:

For more information on the Wonderland of Trees event or how you can help the United Way call 304-253-2111.

- Nov. 8: Fifth annual Wonderland of Trees hosted by Lewis Automotive at their pre-owned showroom.

- Nov. 22: Trees will be auctioned to highest bidders at Lewis Automotive pre-owned showroom.

— United Way of Southern West Virginia 2013-2104 Campaign Chair Frank Wood is publisher of Beckley Newspapers.