What does ‘advancing the common good’ mean?

Published 2:03 pm Saturday, October 16, 2010

“Advancing the common good.” You may have heard this phrase on a United Way public service announcement, or maybe you have seen it written in some of our marketing materials. Have you ever wondered what it means? When you hear that United Way is working to advance the common good for Freeborn County, do you ask, how?

Corrine Applegate

Advancing the common good means building a community that offers quality of life for all, regardless of age, gender, income or cultural background. There are three things we all need in order to enjoy quality of life: education, income and health. These are the building blocks that United Way has set out to ensure are available to all. Imagine living in a community in which each individual receives a quality education from early childhood through their high school years. Those individuals then go on to attain a stable job and enough income to support a family through retirement. What would it look like if those same people were all participating in healthy lifestyle choices and the occurrence of chronic illness was significantly reduced? Would this be a community you would enjoy living in? United Way seeks to create such opportunities by partnering with a variety of community programs and initiatives to encourage meaningful, lasting change.

What can we do to ensure that all who live in Freeborn County have the opportunity for quality education, stable income and good health? United Way believes it will require all of us to work together to find the solutions for our community. All of us, each with our own strengths, talents and viewpoints will need to collaborate to develop a plan and carry it out.

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Facing challenging social issues and creating change can be difficult. What can help move our community closer to where we would like to be? The concept of unconditional positive regard comes to mind. The paradox of unconditional positive regard is that when a person is accepted just as they are they change. Experiencing acceptance that is not dependent on thinking, feeling or acting a particular way frees us and can provide a safe environment to explore how things could be different. Being honest about where we are at, without the fear of rejection, can lead us to where we desire to be.

Where do we begin? We begin with ourselves. If we are all willing to ask ourselves how we can contribute to the solution then we will be off to a great start. The collective power of individuals working together to achieve something that no one of us could on our own can be amazing. The strength in this system is the relationship between all of us, how we are interconnected. As a community we can find where our paths intersect and stand on common ground. It is from this place we can succeed in building a strong, healthy community. Our community can thrive when we begin to see that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Corinne Applegate is the office administrator for the United Way of Freeborn County.