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What it means to #LIVEUNITED

Change doesn’t happen alone.

In fact, the African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child,” is very true when it comes to philanthropy in rural Pennsylvania communities, or for that matter, communities all across the United States. The United Way is a shining example of the power of collaboration and partnership and the impact it can have on philanthropy.

The Lycoming County United Way has an almost 98-year history of serving communities in north central Pennsylvania, and while our history is something to be proud of, our future is what excites us the most.

Partnering with United Way Worldwide and United Way Pennsylvania, projects like the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) report and PA 2-1-1 — are made possible, allowing us to look at what it takes for hardworking individuals to survive and move forward on a path to financial stability and to get individuals referred to partners who can help. For example, of the reported 46,122 households in Lycoming County, 30 percent are not able to meet a basic survival budget and 13 percent are below the federal poverty line.

Partnering with homeless providers in our community allows us to raise funds to support meals for homeless and hungry neighbors and bring awareness to the homeless challenges in our community.

And, partnering with corporate leaders like UPMC, Kellogg Co., UPS and others, we’re are working toward solving the root causes of human service needs in healthcare, food insecurity and human trafficking, with corporate gifts and sponsorships.

Since 1980, your United Way has raised more than $1 million annually and the first time it happened, it was a woman that led the way. Harriet Lenhart, like Frances Weisbart Jacobs, a founding member of the first “united campaign” in 1887 in Denver, was a woman of vision. Like Jacobs, Mrs. Lenhart saw a growing need and set a bold goal to raise the money to support her community and United Way partners. She did it relying on a robust manufacturing base, two hospitals, three colleges, schools, local businesses and lots of knocking on doors and making phone calls. But she was ultimately successful, thanks to her community.

Today the landscape is different. Manufacturing is shrinking, healthcare is consolidating, and volunteers would no longer be as welcome on front porches. And yet, your United Way last year allocated almost $800,000 to help 38 programs in three counties. But it’s not enough and workplace giving is declining, key donors are retiring and moving, and generational poverty is still increasing.

We hear story after story of friends and neighbors, who for no fault of their own, or because of one unplanned emergency, are left hungry or worse, homeless, because of circumstances outside of their control. But safety net services are just a part of the United Way story.

This year we’ll complete a strategic plan moving us beyond our 100th birthday in 2022. The plan will be the culmination of months of work by staff, board, community members, partners and investors. But it started with vision. Vision means taking risks, trying new things and challenging each other’s way of thinking. It means diversity of culture and diversity of thought. But most importantly it means community — the same community with the vision to begin a “community chest” in 1922.

And here’s where you come in. This community has helped our United Way raise over $1 million annually for over 40 years. Fundraising, or resource development as we like to call it, is a byproduct of showing the impact we are making. Our impact is measured in lives changed.

We hope over the last year you have seen a change in your United Way. A change that is re-focused on building lasting partnerships with providers, corporations, foundations, individuals and communities. A change that is built on looking for solutions to problems facing our neighborhoods, schools and homes. And a change that is focused on stronger individuals, stronger families and stronger communities. That’s our commitment to you and so we really do need your commitment to us.

Last year we were able to fund all of the requests from our partners. This year we are almost $400,000 behind in our efforts with less than 90 days before we approve grants to our partners whose needs we anticipate will continue to grow. We need your help if we are to meet those needs.

Every dollar counts and your gifts make a difference. You can give in many ways, including:

• Visiting our website at www.lcuw.org and clicking the orange “GIVE” button.

• Texting LIVEUNITED to 50155 and following the instructions.

• Calling our office at 570-323-9448.

• Mailing us a check payable to “Lycoming County United Way” to 1 W. 3rd St., Ste 208, Williamsport, PA 17701.

If you have already made a gift, thank you. If you can increase your commitment, thank you. And if you have not yet made a gift, please consider making one today.

Together, we can make an impact by fighting for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. Together, we can make an impact if we #LIVEUNITED.

Because change doesn’t happen alone … you can help. Will you?

Ronald Frick is the president of the Lycoming County United Way. Ken Sawyer is a member of the marketing, resource development and strategic planning committees of the Lycoming County United Way board.

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