With a Little-bit of Luck

First and foremost, well wishes:

As the new year approaches, many people cannot wait to bid so long to 2008 with hope of a better 2009.  Counting myself among those folks, I’ve decided that I might as well pull out all of the stops to ensure I set myself up for a great year.  In other words, indulging in a few superstitions cannot hurt, right?

Although there is a long list of possible traditions to incorporate into your New Year’s celebrations to ensure good luck and fortune in 2009, here are a few highlights: Continue reading

VITA=Free Money!!!

Every year, volunteers do the unordinary…nay…the unthinkable by banding together to do someone else’s taxes. As if your own W-2s, 1040s, and Schedule A through Qs weren’t enough, could you imagine taking time out of your day to actually complete someone else’s? 

I didn’t think so.

But what if I told you that you could help a family increase their income by $4,300 next year. What if I told you that you could be the difference between a child getting enough to eat every day or not; or a senior affording the prescription they can’t cope without.

What if I told you that you could change someone’s world, would you do it?

2009 is not going to be easy. For many in our community a pink slip may be more likely than a pay raise. As times get tight, budgets  get cut and often times this is less about not getting popcorn at the movies and more about just making it through today and seeing tomorrow. If that was the life you were living, what would $4,300 mean to you?

Now about those taxes… you can make the difference by volunteering in the United Way Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. The hours and locations are flexible, no prior experience is required, and you aren’t legally liable.

Come to our Young Leaders VITA Orientation at the UAB School of Business (Rm 111) on Tuesday, January 13th and see how easy it is to change someone’s life forever. Training will begin at 5:30 pm and end by 8:30.  Let’s start 2009 off right, by making a world of difference in our local community!

 

Happy Holidays!!!

Dear Mr. Virdot….

With the holidays upon us, I thought this was a great story in the New York Times about the power of  a small gift ($5) during difficult times.  During the Great Depression, a mysterious benefactor named B. Virdot (an alias) offered assistance to his struggling neighbors in Canton, Ohio.

Below is a letter from that time, but be sure to read the entire story when you get the time.  It’s indicative of so many quiet heros that make a difference in their community everyday.

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Kudos to Local Nonprofits

4504118_good_jobHere at United Way, were are incredibly grateful to so many in the community for your generosity and enabling United Way to serve our partner agencies and those in need in the coming year.

However, I’d also like to say how impressed I have been with local nonprofits over the past several months. Since the beginning of our economic crisis, nonprofits are seeing a significant increase in demand for their services (demand they did not expect when they planned their 2008 budgets). Yet, they are finding the resources and volunteers necessary to meet the growing need here in Birmingham.

More people are asking for help this Christmas. But with donations to charitable organizations holding to about the same levels as past years, the challenge to get toys and food to the needy is greater.

“We’ve had a lot of first timers come in this year, and we’re going to do our best to meet those needs,” said Tree Davidson, spokeswoman for the local Salvation Army.

All I can say is thank you for your resourcefulness and dedication to our community. We are inspired by your perseverance and those of us at United Way will work along side you as we try to get through the coming months together.

We did it!

It’s official. United Way met the 2008 Campaign Goal thanks to the hard work of thousands of dedicated volunteers and donors. Thank you to everyone that supported United Way this year in our efforts to change our community for the better

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Now, we’re busy investing that money in programs that will help bolster our community during these trying times and meet increasing needs. If you know of someone that is in need of help, please have them call 2-1-1 for assistance.

Exponential Holiday Gift Ideas

holiday-giftsIf you are like me, I have great aspirations during the holidays to find the “perfect” hostess or holiday gifts that perfectly suit the personality and interests of the recipient. Then, I hit a road-block, or should we say a “gift block.” I have no idea what to give. Bath soap? Wine? What?

Here are a few unique gift ideas that you can not only give to friends, neighbors, and loved ones, but you can feel good about the fact that these gifts help others: Continue reading

Philanthropy + Reality TV = ?

This past Wednesday, Fox aired a new show called Secret Millionaire.  The premise of the show places millionaires in poverty-stricken neighborhoods for one week to see the challenges faced by people living there.  At the end of the week, the millionaires decide how to allocate $100,000 of their money to people in need that they have met during the week.

Regarding the merits of the show, the jury is still out, but I was struck by how similar some aspects of this show were to our own process at United Way for allocating money to help people in need.  In two very important ways, the process is the same:

  1. Donors (and volunteers) visit service providers and speak to people in need to hear their story.
  2. Based on the visits, donors (and volunteers) evaluate how to best allocate a limited amount of money.

At the end of the day, both the millionaires on the show and the donors (and volunteers) that participate in the United Way allocations process are predictably surprised by the difficulty of that decision making process as well as the overwhelming number of people working everyday to improve the lives of others.

Go ahead and check out the show for yourself and let us know what you think.