Live United: Jump in and help wash the dishes at the United Way

Published 8:45 pm Friday, January 21, 2022

Live United by Erin Haag

“Everyone wants to save the world, but no one wants to help mom do the dishes.”

Erin Haag

This line from a little social media “story” has been rattling around in my mind all week. It settled deep inside me, as a recognition of truth. It’s easy to laugh and say, “that’s so true.” I think it’s important to truly take a pause and listen to that truth. A constant message that I send out to the world is the cry for help. The call to action. That’s not going to change, because the need is continual. We will always need new board members, new volunteers, new donors, because life goes on. As our community evolves and changes and we face new challenges, we need fresh ideas, fresh perspective and fresh air.

So, I need some help doing the dishes. If you’ve ever thought about being a board member, or a committee member or even just a person to sit down and brainstorm — now’s the time. Think about the person in your life that’s working toward a promotion, and hasn’t had opportunities to.

People often don’t want to join a board because they’re worried they’re not bringing enough to the table. They aren’t experienced enough, they don’t know enough — all sorts of things. I’m here to tell you though — I don’t need someone to save the world. I just need someone to come and wash dishes with me. 

I need cheerleaders, I need opinions, I need feedback. Remember, the people I talk to every single day, asking for donations, asking for support are people who may or may not have extensive professional experience. Heck, sometimes I don’t have the professional experience, and I’m learning along side my board. We want people who have never been on a board before. We want people with a wide variety of experiences. There’s no “it’s who you know” happening here — I promise you. I get it. It’s not for everyone. So who do you know? Who is that person that jumps in with both feet? Who is passionate about helping our community and willing to show up? Who’s the co-worker that maybe normally doesn’t get to participate in boards because it’s considered “upper management?” Make the suggestion to them. Make the suggestion to me, and I’ll reach out and ask. 

I was thrilled to find a candidate this week. My radio spot on Power 96 this Wednesday was a discussion of food insecurity. I shared some data on food insecurity. We talked about how there are major plans in the work to address this service gap — offering support to our local food shelves. There are a lot of ingredients in the mix right now, and it’s not quite ready to present the full plan to the public, but gosh. It’s starting to smell really good in here. (I know it’s not quite a pun at the level of Al Batt, but I think the food references deserve some credit for humor) 

At the end of our conversation, I made the call to action for board members. I shared our website,, and let people know there was a short application. (Oh, look at that! A call to action posed as a story!) That radio spot aired at 8:30 in the morning. At 9:02, I had an application in my email. The applicant shared that he heard the radio show and it caught his attention. He’s heard me other weeks, but this week it grabbed him, and he decided to take action. I shared it with our board members in charge of interviewing, and by 7 that evening, we had a new candidate to be voted in, and he’s going to join us next week. I can’t express enough how good that made me feel. It was so validating to have an immediate response to my request for help. To have board members jump in and take unexpected meetings in the evenings after work. All three of them were very willing to jump right in and wash dishes. 

Next week will be my last regular weekly article. I chatted with a board member this evening for about an hour, just catching up on life and happenings. She’s one of my best cheerleaders, and we talked about my articles a bit. She asks about me, about my kids, as well as the United Way stuff. She also sends me pictures of orange trees from warm weather locales and talks about how cold it is at 35 degrees when we’re under a wind chill warning. I suppose I’ll forgive her though since she is such a good cheerleader. I hope you’ll consider yourself or someone you know to join her as a cheerleader. 

In the meantime, thank you for listening. Thank you for calling to share stories, thank you for the sweet notes sent in the mail. Thank you for showing up United. I wish you good health in this winter of cold and sickness, and hope that in the spring, you’ll be able to come and visit our offices. Hopefully we won’t have too many dishes in the sink. 

Erin Haag is the executive director of the United Way of Freeborn County.