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Supporting Our Local United Way

Many people view fund raising as a burdensome, maybe even an unpleasant task. The exception is usually for a cause that resonates strongly with in each of us; a local disaster, or a disease that strikes a loved one or a young child in the community. It is relatively simple to volunteer to raise funds for local school needs or youth sports teams, which are short term and have a limited time frame. It is also easier to pitch in for large natural disaster aid projects because they are so devastating and played out on the news so strongly. Often, the ongoing local needs and charitable works that focus on prevention and addressing basic needs are somewhat innocuous, if not invisible around us. The fact that the needs and the efforts to meet those needs have been here so long perhaps causes them to lack the emotional appeal or perhaps the sex appeal of other newer, larger issues.

My first involvement with fund raising was lugging the UNICEF can around on Halloween back in grade school in the mid- sixties. It was easy and donors seemed to always respond with a few coins, not to mention, candy treats. Then it was going door to door for the neighborhood March of Dimes appeals with my Mom, selling cookies for the Girl Scouts, selling ads for the high school plays and year book. There was always a need, a cause, a chance to pitch in and do my part. That is what I took away from those early experiences. It as an opportunity to help, to be involved, to serve my group, my school and my community. I still do. And, here I found my passion; to make a difference in my community by helping others in need.

The meaning of the word Charity is an act of kindness or good will, providing help to those in need and being tolerant and non-judgmental of others. It is the foundation of the United Way. Our mission is to improve people’s lives through caring for their needs in our communities. Charity.

Are there really needs? You bet! We are not talking about need in the big cities of New York, Albany, Buffalo or even third world nations. We are talking Fulton County; Gloversville, Johnstown, and all the rural towns, villages and hamlets in between, where about 55,000 people make their home, and where one in four families are living at, or below the poverty level, right here, right now. Your local United Way donations stay here and work here, unless you designate your gift to go somewhere else. Even a large percent of our overhead is spent with local Fulton County businesses and employees.

So, who does United Way of Fulton County help? Who are those in need? Your friends, your neighbors, your fellow residents, co-workers and maybe even your own families. United Way touches all ages across the spectrum. What are those needs? Food, fuel, rental assistance to prevent homelessness, safety from Domestic Violence, elderly and child abuse, elderly health and mental health education, for starters. We currently have more than a dozen partner agencies providing some of these services, and more, in our area. As a community, Fulton County has an infrastructure of resources, if you will, to deal with these issues collaboratively, before, and as they become critical. We may not be able to prevent these needs from happening but with the communities’ help we can prepare to meet those needs as they arise.

Americans are the most generous people in the world and Fulton County residents are no exception. We recognize and acknowledge that fact. We are grateful for it. But in uncertain times such as these, the needs escalate and we need to be committed to aggressively continue to meet the challenge. We are on our way to raising $160,000 in this year’s community campaign. It is a formidable goal to be sure, but not impossible. Many local employers offer their employees the ability to contribute through payroll deduction. That enables one to give a few dollars from each paycheck, and at the end of the year, adds up to a significant gift that helps our community be a better place. And, I’ve always believed you never miss what you don’t see! We, at United Way are thankful for every dollar, from every source. No donation is too small, and every contribution is important. Picture a snowflake if you will. Singly a snowflake poses no threat, but collectively, they can cause a whole lot of difference! I’m certain that no snowflake in an avalanche feels responsible!

You face many choices in where you wish to direct your charitable contributions. More requests seem to come in the mail every day. Everyone has their hand out. Please consider helping the United Way and invest in our community with a donation. It is a good thing; the right thing, to help others. If we don’t give while we can, who will give when we are unable to, and we are in need? Charity begins at home.

I was on my way to a presentation one morning recently and passed the proverbial dead skunk in the road, complete with the smell that permeates your nose and lingers for blocks. I thought what a powerful and long lasting impact that small skunk had on those it touched, which made me think the same was true of United Way donations. No, they don’t stink!  Your generosity can have a powerful and long-lasting impact on the lives of those who receive services from the partner agencies funded by those United Way donations.

I believe in the mission and vision of United Way, which is to identify and provide leadership and financial support for essential community programs and services in Fulton County.  I am happy to be able to give of my time and talents to help our community be a better place, one family at a time. It can be defeating at times as we struggle to sustain and grow the campaign. But those frustrations are offset by the many wonderful, generous, and caring people I have met; both donors and human service agency partners. You are part of the treasure that is this community and county. You are why I choose to follow my passion and to be involved. Your generous example inspires me and others to give and give back. I am proud to call Fulton County my home. I was raised to believe that if you need help, to ask. I’m asking you to help the United Way of Fulton County, today.

United Way offices are located at 110-112 North Main Street in Gloversville. For more information call us at 518-725-9817, or via email at