United Way ‘advancing the common good’

Published 2:02 pm Saturday, November 8, 2008

The mission statement for United Way is “Advancing the common good for Freeborn County through giving, advocating, and volunteering.” As we Live United, we can advance the common good for our Freeborn County citizens.

Supporting older people is one of the four essential needs of United Way of Freeborn County. Each fall United Way raises money to help with programs for older people. That is the “giving” part of the mission statement.

The second part is “advocating.” We can “advocate” for Senior Resources and Semcac Community Action, which are partners with United Way. They provide seven programs to meet the needs of older Freeborn County residents. These programs are Senior Advocacy, Chore Services, Family Caregiver, Ride Services, RSVP, Faith in Action and Senior Nutrition.

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The third part “volunteering” can be an easy thing to do. Older people are always in need of help. It can be offering to take them to the grocery store, building a ramp into their house, or just spending time with them.

Last year 6,946 older people received support from United Way

Another area of essential need is increasing self sufficiency. Twenty-one and four-tenths percent of United Way funds provide job coaching, transportation to work, advocacy, and social opportunities for Freeborn County residents who need help and support to do the things many of us accomplish on our own.

Arc of Freeborn County and Cedar Valley Services work together and support people with developmental disabilities to be as independent as possible.

Adult Basic Education teaches people skills needed to prosper in our society. Money from United Way pays for care of the children as the adults are in class and for food during the meetings.

Domestic Abuse Project gives abusers the skills needed to live in a family setting.

Last year 2,993 people received support from United Way to maintain their self-sufficiency.

A new agency supported by United Way this year is 211. For the millions of Americans needing help every day — from locating financial assistance during a family crisis, to finding adequate care for an aging parent, to searching for the highest-quality child care – 211 is an easy-to-remember phone number connecting them quickly to essential community resources.

Spearheaded by United Ways, the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems and information and referral providers across the country, 211 is now available to approximately 75 percent of the U.S. population, with more communities coming on board each month.

As 211 becomes available to more Americans, communities across the country are realizing that 211 provides much more than instant connectivity to trained specialists who can direct you to local services. In the hands of innovative citizens, 211 is an essential community tool that connects those wishing to give help with those who need it; acts as the community information center during times of disaster; and enhances the efficiency of our human services system many find hard to navigate.

Are you experiencing a financial crisis? 211 knows which programs are available in your community. Simply put, communities with 211 service have in their hands a resource that can be adapted to advance the common good by connecting citizens, services and community leaders in pursuit of improved lives.

As each of these agencies work together to advance the common good for Freeborn County, we can all Live United.

Sue Berg is co-chairwoman of the 2008 fundraising campaign for the United Way of Freeborn County.