John O’Leary: United Way meets the community’s critical needs

10/11/2012 6:54 AM

08/08/2014 10:12 AM

No one works alone. I certainly don’t. I am a firm believer in surrounding yourself with the best people that you can. Call in an outside expert if you need to. But get the best advice you can get.

That is why Airbus proudly partners with United Way. We know that when it comes to meeting critical needs in our community, United Way is the expert.

For the past 90 years, United Way has helped agencies improve their capability to deliver. They consult with agencies, helping them to focus on outcomes and improve services. United Way of the Plains provides the stability, knowledge of the community and the standards necessary to meet critical needs.

Airbus is one of the many local businesses that have rallied around United Way. As we have grown, we are proud to have grown in our support of United Way. I serve as this year’s United Way campaign chairman.

Local companies can support United Way in a myriad of ways. For example, Airbus has partnered with United Way to deliver an Airbus Foundation-sponsored program aimed at inspiring children to stay in school. United Way is uniquely positioned to work across our community with organizations such as Communities in Schools, the Wichita public school district, and Wichita State University to deliver world-class programs.

It’s through programs such as these, supported by United Way of the Plains, that our community thrives. Businesses small and large can get involved, and each can and will make a difference.

United Way unites these efforts and optimizes their results. In our community of about 600,000, United Way provided around 275,000 instances of service through its partner agencies last year.

But United Way is more than just a way to channel resources to the agencies that can best provide assistance. United Way is relevant to the needs of the community. In early 2009, United Way established the laid-off workers fund – a program designed to match suddenly unemployed people with the resources they needed.

United Way also provides a hotline, 2-1-1, to match people with needs to services that can help them. They coordinate volunteers during disasters, such as the tornado clean-up last spring.

There’s another reason United Way is important to our community. In the last few years there has been a ground swell of charitable causes. Are these causes led by well intentioned, good-hearted people? Absolutely. Are these start-up organizations capable of effectively and consistently delivering services? Maybe.

United Way-funded agencies get results. They have to. Allocation committees, made up of community volunteers, review the programs that request and receive funds from United Way each year. Only those agencies and programs that get results continue to receive funding.

United Way is a resource for helping support successful nonprofits and, in turn, building on individual donations through at-work campaigns, many of which offer donation-matching programs and volunteer opportunities in a streamlined, well-coordinated process that minimizes the work for the donor and maximizes the benefit for the worthy cause.

Local businesses can support that work and their community by supporting the United Way’s annual campaign, which is under way right now.

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