Guest Column: Each one of us can create positive changes

Published 9:00 am Sunday, November 6, 2016

Live United by Ann Austin

Ann Austin is the executive director of the United Way of Freeborn County.

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There has been a lot of distrust with systems, especially this year.

It’s been a difficult election season — people are at odds with each other and, in some cases, friendships and family relationships have been affected in negative ways. This is so incredibly sad — and limits our ability to find a better path together.

What people have failed to remember is that individuals make up the systems that exist. Each one of us is part of a system. And each one of us can create positive change within our system.

This may seem like a short-lived problem, but it isn’t. This gradual breakdown of trust and belief in program effectiveness has been happening for years now. It’s impacted just about every system — not only federal and state government but local nonprofits that provide essential services.

Ann Austin

Ann Austin

Systems that exist in our community, such as our local city government, county government and nonprofits such as our United Way and The Salvation Army, are also made up of people — who are trying to create a better community.

The challenge with being part of a system is that, even at the local level, even with all of the good that is done at the local level, we inevitably inherit negative perceptions that don’t represent who we are.

Our board and the volunteers who work with the United Way of Freeborn County are some of the most helpful, smart, engaged people I have met. They truly inspire me every day! They are focused on building a better tomorrow and solving deep-seated community issues.

United Way and other local nonprofits make up the fabric of our community — there is so much work that goes on behind the scenes to accomplish even what may seem like a small success.

It’s healthy to question and ask for more information — but not when it leads to the point of distraction. We are all capable of so much, when we choose to leave negativity behind and focus on what is possible.

What I ask of you, no matter how you vote next week, is to have faith in our community and what local groups are working on. Get involved — find something you’re passionate about and look for people who can join with you. Amazing things are happening, and even more is possible when we work together!