Early in my career, I was introduced to United Way through my employer. I recall leafing through a United Way pamphlet and being struck by its message – that if we dream big and work hard together for the common good, we can build a better future for each other. I was amazed by the work United Way did in our community, and because of the collaborative and impactful work of the organization, I was compelled to become more involved. I joined the Campaign Cabinet in the late 1990s, followed by becoming a member of the Board of Directors, and ultimately the amazing team.
In Broome County, we take pride in our spirit of collaboration and hard work. And most importantly, as a community, we aspire together. Yet despite our collective efforts over the years, our community faces many issues. Too many children begin kindergarten without the preparation they need to succeed. Too many people suffer from chronic illness. Too many families are trapped in poverty and struggle to build better lives for their children.
Intractable problems call for innovative solutions. We must continue to join together to find new strategies for overcoming the obstacles that challenge our community. With this in mind, in 2016, through the Community Impact model, United Way of Broome County set out on a new path of collaboration in pursuit of increasing its impact and effectiveness across the community. Following the lead of several innovative United Ways across the state and nation, and in partnership with our dedicated community-based organizations, we have made significant progress. But there is more to come.
Through our work, we have identified the best opportunities for investment under the areas of Health, Education, and Financial Stability, which will result in a lasting, measurable impact on people’s lives. Through the Community Café Series and extensive research, together, we isolated critical areas of concern and are exploring new opportunities to build synergy between existing community visions.
By looking beyond outdated assumptions, listening to the needs of the people in our community, and seeking guidance from community stakeholders, we implemented a renewed commitment to Broome County. This week, the Strategic Community Grants Program Request for Proposals, a combination of 3 grant programs, will be released to focus on the critical issues in Broome County with the goal of creating systemic change through collaborative, coordinated efforts. Additionally, these goals will serve as unambiguous benchmarks, enabling us at United Way to report our progress to our donors, volunteers, and the community at large through meaningful, measurable results. We are excited about all the collaborations, partnerships, and meaningful work that will take place over the next few months.
As the African proverb goes, “If you want to travel fast, travel alone. If you want to travel far, travel together.” United Way of Broome County is here to travel far and alongside you and everyone in our community.