United Way looks to raise even more than last year

By the Herald editorial staff

Winston Churchill was born with a speech impediment. As a youth he sought medical attention to correct it and was told that "practice and perseverance are alone necessary" to correct it.

Persevere he did.

He worked harder than most, and because of that he accomplished more than most. Churchill became a great orator because of his impediment, not in spite of it.

The United Way's new campaign reminds us of Churchill's success. The agency is setting its target almost $300,000 higher this year.

One might think that in this economic climate it would be prudent to ask less of the community than last year. After all, it's a tough economy.

Even those of us with stable jobs can't help but feel anxious about the future. Even if we haven't been directly affected, we know someone who has been laid off, forced to take unpaid leave or seen their pay cut.

How can we help but worry?

But the sickly economy is exactly why United Way needs more from us, whether we're worried or not.

Like the story of Churchill overcoming his speech problems, the United Way is counting on Mid-Columbia residents and businesses to give more because of the bad economy, not in spite of it.

The United Way is the Mid-Columbia's largest private supporter of human services. Donations to the organization support 23 agencies that run 49 important programs, including youth development, services for people with disabilities, child abuse prevention, mental health counseling, teen mentoring, early learning and more.

All programs are coordinated through the Community Solutions program priorities -- education, health, safety and self-sufficiency. These are the top needs that local leaders have identified for our community.

In addition to upping the ante this year, United Way has launched the Corporate Cornerstone program, which allows individual donors to direct all of their donations to programs and none of it toward administrative costs.

It's a great idea. People dig a little deeper if they aren't worried about too much of their donations paying for overhead.

With United Way raising its goal from the $4.33 million collected last year to $4.6 million in the new campaign, it will need every tool it can find to encourage contributions.

But the Corporate Cornerstone program only works if the business community meets the challenge.

The program allows corporations, foundations and small businesses to direct their annual corporate gifts toward underwriting administrative expenses.

As a result, 100 percent of donations from individuals can go directly to services. Of course, these services depend on the generosity of thousands of individuals in our community.

United Way has set its sights higher than ever before. It's a lot to ask, but the need is greater as well.

Think of it as an investment in a better Tri-Cities.