KENNEWICK, Wash. — It's not what you think; it's relevant, and it's a big impact in our community. I'm talking about United Way. Just about everything you knew about United Way many years ago has probably changed to fit today's needs and community priorities.
Several years ago, United Way developed a method for determining what the community wanted to focus on in regard to health and human services. It's called Community Solutions.
Through collaboration with many individuals and organizations from various sectors of our community, four areas of focus were established. It's so simple. United Way focuses every bit of its work within these four areas: education, health, safety and self-sufficiency.
The needs in these areas are being addressed by programs with proven track records of making a real difference in the lives of our residents. There are daily success stories all around us.
To be honest, I did not have any plans to be involved with United Way. I gave back to my community through other avenues. That changed several years ago. A business connection of mine asked me to help introduce her to others in our center of influence with the focus of educating organizations about United Way.
The goal was to provide the employees of these organizations a way to give back to the community in which they live and work. This forced me to find out what was happening at United Way.
As I observed the United Way and did more research, I found that the funded programs and communitywide initiatives, "Our Babies Can't Wait" and "Prepared by 20," were precisely in-line with my priorities and values. They function in an efficient manner because of strong collaboration and coordination. Chances are, most of the local services that you value are probably supported by United Way, too.
United Way has changed. I challenge you to research this organization yourself. The transparency of its business practices is spelled out on its website. Furthermore, staff at the United Way are passionate about the community and are pleased to have an opportunity to talk about the work that is happening or answer any question a person might have.
Benton and Franklin counties are changing as the needs of our residents are increasing. It is important, now more than ever, that we come together to improve the lives of our residents.
Everyone can play a part in community success. It is not just about money. Sometimes compassion through volunteerism or advocating for a cause near your heart is just as important. Letting residents know that the entire community cares about what happens to them is just as valuable.
Do some research today and you will find that United Way improves lives in our community. Our goal is that everyone in Benton and Franklin counties has a good education, access to health care, lives and works in a safe environment and is a self-sufficient, active member of our community.
We invite you to be a part of our work. You can give, advocate or volunteer.
To find out more about United Way's work in our area, visit www.unitedway-bfco.com/investment/htm.
* Joe Peterson is the owner of Joe Peterson Insurance. He has been a member of the United Way Board of Directors for two years and is chairman of the 2012 Campaign.