My Turn: United Way creates a safety net to support those in need


Monday, November 13, 2017

Author W.T. Purkiser notably observed, “Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our Thanksgiving.” The holiday season is right around the corner, and before we rush off into a shopping frenzy, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the many blessings we have in Franklin County, most notably the generosity of our friends and neighbors.

For the past 80 years, residents of Franklin County have answered the call of our needy neighbors, and generously donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the United Way. This year, on the eve of our 80th anniversary, the United Way is now, more than ever, in need of community support. Funding over 25 partner agencies throughout the county, the United Way has been essential to the fabric of this community — responding to new and emerging needs and transforming people’s lives.

Although a community staple for decades, the United Way is still largely unknown and the extent of its reach is often underestimated. Through partnerships with dozens of area nonprofits, the United Way funds over 40 different programs. From education and literacy to financial stability and health, the United Way creates a safety net to support those in need.

As you take a look around your neighborhood, you’ll find beneficiaries at each turn. Your nephew who proudly belongs to the Boy Scouts. Your 8 year old neighbor who can’t wait to see her mentor from Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Your co-worker who picks up her children from the YMCA after school program. Your elderly neighbor who receives benefits counseling from LifePath, helping him access resources to stay in his home. The woman at the grocery store who is recovering from domestic abuse, using the counseling services made available by New England Learning Center for Women in Transition (NELCWIT). The new family moving into the apartment, found and secured through ServiceNet’s shelter and housing team.

These are your family, friends, and neighbors. This holiday season, be thankful for the blessings these many agencies provide for those in need and consider becoming one of the helping hands that pull our neighbors up.

Because at Thanksgiving it’s first thanks, then giving.

Maeve Shaughnessy is the campaign co-chair for the United Way’s 80th anniversary campaign and marketing specialist for Brattleboro Memorial Hospital.