Make A Difference

Your Gift And The Power Of 'Will'

April 27, 2023 | by uwhr1957


It doesn’t seem like it, but only 10 months ago, I was barking orders inside a busy newsroom; or, in quieter times, sitting next to a young reporter walking them through a story.

That’s the hook when your whole journalism career is spent at small- to mid-sized community newspapers. For all the fun you have, for all the friends for life you make, for all the sweat and tears shed, the staff is usually young. And, if you’re an editor, you’re the elder statesperson, no matter how hard that “elder” part is to swallow.

It was during those one-on-one times working with reporters that I developed a habit — subbing out the word “can” with “will.”

Sure, that extra phone call “can” make that story better but, rest assured, it “will.” Will, to me, was just a stronger word to use in a room where reporters and editors struggled daily to avoid passive voice. “Can” is a tickle. “Will” is a punch to the gut. It’s the confidence that, yep, it’s going to get done — not a single question left to ask.

All those months later, now sitting in my office at United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, thinking about all the work this small, mighty team does here, it’s easy to see how that “will” thing transitioned easily over into my first new career since college graduation.

And it goes double for our donors, our backers and our friends. Sure, your gift to any non-profit “can” help this or that. But chances are it “will.” It’s no different here.

As our fiscal year comes to a close at the end of this month — yes, that’s Sunday — it’s important you make your gift. It’s also important that you know what your gift will do.

Your gift will keep our working families from falling behind on their rent and other utility payments. It will provide respite from the constant worry, the on-edge anxiety of what the financial future holds for local ALICE (Asset, Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households.

It will make sure ALICE families are not forgotten or invisible. It will make sure the struggles our working families face will continue to be in the spotlight.

Your gift will provide affordable and accessible child care to working families in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. Chris Quinn, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce and a UWHR Board Member, said it best when he called child care “infrastructure.” He’s right. It is. It keeps workers at work and provides all-important enrichment for our children.

Your gift will keep people like Christy M. at her job with reliable transportation. Christy, who through two of our community partners — Gemeinschaft Home and Way To Go — broke her cycle of addiction and got a car that led to a job all of which, in turn, got her family back together.

That moment will stay with United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County Board Member Hallet Culbreth. Hallet, a guardian ad litem for children, knows the importance family plays in the future for a child and met Christy with me in December.

“That is the ultimate goal,” Hallet said. “Family reunification.”

Again, this wasn’t a “can” moment. Your gift “did indeed” help Christy.

And your gift will help more just like her, people you know because, chances are, you meet ALICE every day.

According to the latest ALICE report, 20 of the most common jobs right now in the United States are considered ALICE careers. They’re important jobs, things we take for granted. ALICE isn’t just a poster made to tell our own stories, it’s a living breathing person. ALICE is someone helping you at the grocery store, someone who stops their landscaping job to wave at you when you step out on the deck.

ALICE is our friends. ALICE is our neighbors. ALICE might have been you at one point. ALICE could very well be us again.

ALICE can be a lot of people. But your gift will make sure ALICE is one thing — remembered.

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