As we embark on an historic presidential race, many of us will be thinking about the size of our government and the resources it takes to keep it running. On my Facebook page, I list my political affiliation as the “low tax balanced budget party.” Sadly, there is no such party.
One of the major tasks of our government is to help those who are less fortunate. However, in my opinion, there is an even better way: “Give, Advocate and Volunteer”—the mission of the United Way.
I am passionate about the United Way because the organization allows Gunn-Mowery to donate at a level that makes us comfortable, gives us flexibility to designate funds to specific community organizations, and empowers volunteers to determine where non-designated funds are most needed in our community. We are able to give to the best of our ability, and our donations are distributed to organizations that we believe help those in need. My personal passion lies in helping children and fostering educational opportunities for low-income families. The United Way allows me to direct my giving to individual institutions that support my passion. I believe this method is a win for our community and a better way to help those that need it most.
In fact, our local United Way of the Capital Region (UWCR) chapter takes it one step further. With already low administrative and fundraising costs, UWCR has been able to count on a number of supportive cornerstone partners to underwrite those costs. This allows 100 percent of the money raised to be directed to programs and services in our community.
For too long, we have paid our taxes and let our government handle the causes that they deemed necessary. Many of us don’t ask questions and don’t help with any of the initiatives. It’s time to change that story. We all need to step up by donating, advocating and volunteering to help support our local communities.
In 2014, UWCR formed a unique and diverse partnership with the Harrisburg Regional Chamber of Commerce, the West Shore Chamber of Commerce, the Foundation for Enhancing Communities, Dauphin County, Cumberland County and Perry County. These entities came together to develop a broader understanding of the needs in our community. A comprehensive assessment was completed, the findings were published, and community conversations were held to figure out what to do to positively impact our communities with respect to health, education, income and basic needs. Thousands of individuals participated in the discussions. We found that critical areas of focus were disparities in school readiness and school achievement, lack of access to health care, children and families living in poverty, and the recent increase in the number of families needing safety net services.
This year, expert task forces were convened around each focus area to help create potential solutions and strategies. As these task forces conclude their work, their findings will be shared with the community for feedback. After the feedback is received, the task forces will recruit solution partners to develop initiatives and share common visions, goals and solutions. What I’m most excited about with this new work is our ability to come together as a community to move the needle on the most pressing issues we face in the areas of health, education, income and basic needs. It’s a road map for creating a stronger and more vibrant community.
This is a plan we can all get behind. We can all be part of the solution and change the story. Three ways you can contribute to the story are to give, advocate and volunteer. By giving, you are helping to improve the lives of individuals and families in your community. By advocating, you are acting as a champion to the cause, participating in discussions and sharing information with coworkers, friends and family. By volunteering, you are engaging in the many opportunities available to making a difference in the capital region. You are putting your thoughts and passions into action.
Central Pennsylvania has been wonderful to my family and me. It is a tremendous place to work, play and raise a family. It has been a great place to start and grow my business. It has provided my children with rich educational, athletic and artistic opportunities in a warm, nurturing environment. My wife Val and I are honored to have been able to call central Pennsylvania “home” for all of our lives. It is important to us to give back, although we could always do more. We all could. Central Pennsylvania deserves our support—let’s all come together to change the story. Give. Advocate. Volunteer.
G. Greg Gunn is managing partner of Gunn-Mowery LLC, one of TheBurg’s community publishers.