United Way is about making a difference

Published 4:38 pm Saturday, October 12, 2013

Column: Live United, By Mary Laeger-Hagemeister

By way of introductions at the last United Way of Freeborn County board meeting, members answered the question, “What do you like about being on the board?”

Mary Laeger-Hagemeister

Mary Laeger-Hagemeister

Over and over members comments consisted of, I like knowing that I can help make a difference, or collaborating with others for the good of our county, or the great energy around the table, working to make a difference. It indeed is a great cross-section of our community that comes together for the common good of others and has also been the impetus for building great personal and professional relationships.

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Creating relationships is what United Way of Freeborn County is doing — working to make a difference with a mission statement of uniting people and resources to improve lives.

Three impact areas that we focus on are:

1. Education — helping people achieve their potential.

2. Income — promoting financial stability and independence.

3. Health — improving people’s health.

As an organization, we believe that these three aspects of peoples’ lives are essential for individual well-being as well as our community’s well-being.

We also hold each of the agencies that receive money from the United Way accountable with quarterly reports indicating how they are using the dollars and what difference their work is making to better the lives of the clients with whom they work. We take the donations given to United Way very seriously and dollars are used wisely. In fact, only about 13 percent of the United Way of Freeborn County’s budget goes to operating expenses.

Those operating expenses buy us space at the U.S. Bank on South Broadway. In addition, with those dollars we receive the expertise, energy and passion of our two staffer members. Ann and Amanda do an outstanding job on behalf of the entire community with their innovative approach and community connections.

We are in the midst of the campaign for 2014, which means at the workplace you may be asked to pledge a portion of your income to help your neighbor. I ask you to seriously consider making a regular contribution. Every dollar given goes to agencies that are working on one or more of the impact areas, and the hope is that the agencies collaborate to have even greater impact in the lives of our neighbors who are struggling in some way at this point in their lives. In giving to others in this way, you also help make our community a better place for all of us.

Some people can’t give as much monetarily but there are other ways you can give back to the community through volunteering your time and talents. Throughout the year there are projects and opportunities where an agency may need some extra volunteer support. The United Way can help you make those connections as well.

Whether you serve in a leadership capacity, give financially, volunteer your time and talents, you too can love making a difference in Freeborn County through the United Way.


Mary Laeger-Hagemeister is the chairwoman of the board of directors for the United Way of Freeborn County.