By the time this article is published, Thanksgiving will only be three weeks away. I love Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite time of year. I think back to my childhood and can almost smell the apple pie and cinnamon.
Even though I was born on June 30, I also celebrate a birthday on Nov. 24. You see, I was adopted and my parents brought me home on Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving. What kid gets two birthdays?
Counting your blessings was a big deal at my house, a practice that I continue today. I am one grateful person. For one thing, I love my job. I LOVE IT! How many people get up each morning and can’t wait to go to work? That is how I feel, even after more than 20 years.
In the beginning, there was a lot of pressure to meet “the campaign goal.” There were thermometers all over the county and everywhere I went, people would ask, “Will you meet your goal?” It was very stressful, especially for someone as competitive as me.
Things have really changed. The work may look simple: Money comes in, money goes out. But it’s what happens in between that makes us unique.
You see, United Way has the best view of Pickens County because we see it through so many different eyes. We bring together the business community, service providers, other funders and extraordinary citizens like you to address complex problems that require complex solutions.
Sometimes, this creates something new, like Dollars and Sense or Camp iRock. Other times, it strengthens what already exists — programs like Meals on Wheels and United Christian Ministries.
Thankfully, the public thermometers are gone. We are no longer measured by how much money we raise but by the impact our work is having in the community. How are children performing one year after attending Camp iRock? What are we teaching our Money Smart students and how are we affecting their choices about money?
We still have insanely huge fundraising goals. Not only are we funding programs that are addressing education, financial stability and basic needs, we are ensuring that Camp iRock, Money Smart, and VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) continue to change the lives of so many Pickens County citizens.
William Shakespeare said (and I am paraphrasing here), “Life’s a stage and we’re merely players.” I used to feel that because I was the United Way director, I always had to play the lead role. Talk about self-imposed pressure.
Wisdom, experience and longevity have taught me that sometimes being a supporting player is wonderful too.
Just this past week, I mentioned to my friend who works at WestPoint Home, if he would ask the company about donating sheets and towels for the Dream Center’s “Opportunity Village.” It was over 100 beds. I was picturing white institutional products.
They just called and asked if the Dream Center could store 225 cartons of bedding including comforter sets, blankets, sheets and towels. There’s nothing institutional in the bunch.
That’s what I love about United Way. We are truly uniting people who want to help with people who need help. It’s the best thing ever.
“During this season of gratitude, we give thanks for you. Counting you among our volunteers, donors and friends is something for which we are truly, truly grateful.”
Julie Capaldi is president of United Way of Pickens County. She can be reached at [email protected] or 864-850-7094, extension 101.