We don't need any reminders about how tough the past year has been to Wichita. We've all heard the news about the numerous layoffs and the state of the economy. No one is going to forget about that. We know what kind of struggles this recession has created — struggles that do deserve our attention.
What we haven't heard much about, however, are the issues that are with us year after year, whether there is a recession or not — issues that programs funded by United Way of the Plains tackle year in and year out.
Let's not forget about people with cerebral palsy who need a wheelchair fitting for their health. Let's not forget about our seniors waiting at home for a hot meal. Let's not forget about children who need the help of mentors to succeed in school.
Those reasons — along with the additional struggles created by the economy — are why it is so important for those of us who can still give to do so this year. That's why United Way's goal of $16.4 million is so important.
As 2009 campaign chairman, I can tell you that at United Way we are doing everything we can to help make this goal happen. This year, my campaign cabinet established three goals:
* Increase the number of volunteers who serve on the campaign cabinet. This year we recruited more than twice as many volunteers as last year. That volunteer increase has allowed United Way to significantly extend its reach in the community.
* Focus on leadership giving. This year we are asking current leadership givers to increase to the next level and encouraging donors who are not currently at the leadership level to increase their gift to that level.
* Recruit new companies to the United Way campaign. We have worked to identify and contact companies that have not held fundraising campaigns. That work has led to United Way securing 66 commitments for new campaigns that will reach more than 5,000 employees.
To make a real difference, though, we also need you. So what can you do? If you are running a business in the Wichita area and do not have a United Way campaign at your office, please call 316-267-1321 to find out how we can help you get one started there.
Many times we hear people say, "We're just a small company. Our gift won't really make a difference." Nothing could be further from the truth. Last year, more than $2 million came from "small" businesses.
Finally, if you are an employee at a business that is running a United Way campaign, please consider giving five minutes of pay per day through payroll deduction. If you're not sure if you can give at your workplace, you can give online at the Web site unitedwayplains.org.
Yes, times are tough, but we can rise up and start a comeback. We can help one another get through these difficult times. Now is the time.