This Black Friday, Help Stock Shelves

It may come as no suprise that CNN is reporting long lines and empty shelves as a sign of times for food banks. If you’re like me and you’d rather not see green beans or cranberry sauce for at a few months after the big Turkey Day, consider dropping your extra cans by a local food bank to help re-stock their shelves.

A Global Lens puts “Thanksgiving” into Focus

congoAlthough United Way is typically viewed as a local agency responding to local needs, the recent fluctuations in our economy, environment, and even politics have highlighted the fact that global issues impact all of us in one way or another.  After all, the Live United slogan says, “Reach out a hand to one, influence the condition of all” – a statement that can be applied across the Atlantic just as easily as it can be applied in our neighborhood.

Therefore, to highlight one pressing international issue, checkout a recently published article by Newsweek that provides first-hand accounts of what is occurring in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its ties to previous international tragedies, such as the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

“Five CNDP soldiers stopped me on the road in the middle of the day. They sent me with a large group of other men and boys–some as young as 12, others as old as 40–to Murambi where they said we would transport boxes of ammunition for the rebel soldiers. They beat us badly so we couldn’t resist. When we got to Murambi, they didn’t order us to transport boxes, but instead gave us military uniforms and taught us how to use weapons. Then after three days, they put us all in an underground prison. We stayed there for four days, and new recruits joined us everyday. On the fourth day, they called us out of the prison and took us to Karuba. That night, I managed to escape with two other recruits, and we ran all the way back to Ngungu. The others who remained behind were sent to Kitchanga for military training. I want to go back to our home in Numbi, but I’m scared. If the CNDP soldiers find me there, they will kill me.”

As we surround ourselves with family and friends this week to give thanks for our blessings, let us remember not only our less fortunate neighbors but also threatened families and communities in other parts of the world, because we now know that – one way or another – their fate is intertwined with our own.

“So How’s The Campaign Going?”

It is the most frequently asked question at every social event, community meeting, or networking reception for any United Way employee these days.  “So, how’s the Campaign going?”  Of course we always have a saavy response for the question, but this year I’ve been thinking about it a little more.  The question is no longer just about the well-being of United Way, but about the well-being of philanthropy and the nonprofit sector.  With needs rising and disposable income falling, how will a community respond?  Well, here’s an interesting analysis from the New York Times on the subject.

In short: was philanthropy, like the housing and financial markets, riding a bubble that has finally burst? So far, few fund-raising experts or nonprofit leaders are predicting an implosion in giving, a long fall from the more than $300 billion that was donated last year in the United States. But nonetheless they acknowledge that their world has changed and are preparing for leaner times.

Flash Mob in Union Station

A little fun to brighten up your day.  Turns out those crazy cats at the mothership, United Way of America, decided to Flash Mob Union Station in D.C..  90+ United Way of America employees, all sporting kick-butt “Live United” tees, swarmed the station and froze in place for 3 minutes to raise awareness about the importance of Living United. 

First watch the viral invitation and then check out the result!

 

 

Please help continue to advocate to your friends and family the importance of Living United.  The community needs it now more than ever.

 Thanks Louise Kenny from United Way of America for forwarding the link. Very Cool!

IRS Giving Back

incometaxUnited Way of Central Alabama was recently given $56,700 by the IRS to assist with our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. This program matches trained volunteers with low to moderate income individuals and families to provide free income tax preparation. You can read more about the IRS’s donation here.

Also, be on the lookout for a volunteer opportunity with VITA coming soon!

Focusing on “Health” more than “Care”

One of the issues United Way is examining lately is that of our overall community health.  Rising health care costs for businesses and Alabama ranking #2 in a list of most obese states indicate that it is time for the health and human service sector to act….but how?

Some of United Way’s new efforts and those of many partners around the state can be summed up in this video by the Healthiest Nation Alliance.

We would love to know what you think of this video or your own perspective on how to improve our community health.  Leave us a message and let’s start “a movement that moves us!”

Tales of Tea and Sympathy

3ct-cover-promote-peace_mediumMany volunteers help tell the United Way story every year by giving their time to speak to companies about United Way.  A common thread throughout many of their moving stories is the fact that life’s unexpected challenges can often spur spontaneous generosity that gives rise to long-term community change. 

In the spirit of our inspiring campaign stories, the Young Leaders Society’s most recent selection for our Live United Book Club is Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson.  The book tells a story about building educational opportunities for women in Pakistan.  Between the lines, however, the book illustrates that community change and those who drive it travel a rough road, but their destination of changing lives makes the journey worthwhile.

Please join us in January to discuss Three Cups of Tea and how we can apply the lessons of the book to change our own community.  Then, check out the Christian Science Monitor’s article on one of the lives changed in Mortenson’s book.