Yesterday’s Progress Should Inspire Today’s Work

There is a lot of troubling news in the world today. Terrorism, inequality and distrust are just a few that come to mind. But when you dig further, you also see encouraging signs.

I recently came across a blog from Ben Carlson on his site, A Wealth of Common Sense. Ben and I share a similar perspective, and his blog highlights many good examples that remind us how far we’ve come.

For example:

  • 200 years ago, 85% of the world population lived in extreme poverty. 20 years ago, it was 29%. Today, only 9% live in extreme poverty.
  • The average American now retires at age 62. One hundred years ago, the average American died at age 51.
  • The U.S. high school graduation rate was just 9% in 1910. It jumped to 52% by 1940 and 83% today.

If these figures blow your mind, I’m not surprised. These examples don’t fit into the narrative broadcast by those who believe the world is spiraling out of control.

Of course, there is a lot of truth to concerns about growing inequality, our readiness for the jobs of the future, and the increasing failures of government – particularly at the national level. As a result, optimism and trust are declining in many parts of the world.

Surveys today typically find that only a small fraction of Americans trust the federal government to do the right thing. Yet more than 70 percent trusted their local government as of a couple years ago.

These numbers make me optimistic, because they present an opportunity for a bottom-up, community-based approach to improve our society.

It’s an approach where people stop shouting past one another and instead listen and attend town council meetings to discuss improving schools and public safety.

It’s an approach where people connect and find common ground that leads to real, scalable impact.

And it’s an approach where our newfound trust and progress creates opportunities for change at higher levels of society, including the national level.

If that sounds a lot like United Way’s model, that’s because it is. We’ve been bringing people together in communities around the world for more than a century. Today’s environment, where trust in local organizations is greater than in national institutions, offers a critical moment to make an impact.

There is still a lot of work to do. The richest one percent of the world controls half its wealth. American millennials today are far less likely than previous generations to out-earn their parents. And our education systems continue to leave too many young people behind.

But it’s graduation season. A time to believe in what we can achieve, both individually and together. So let me end with these reminders:

Let’s continue to believe in the power of communities and the progress we’re making.

Let’s continue to understand the work left to do on behalf of people and communities.

And let’s remain optimistic that people can – and will continue to – come together to change the world.

When You Invest in Your Community, You Invest in Yourself

“Givers gain.”

That phrase was racing through my mind as I put on my “Live United” t-shirt, scanned the conference room and listened to the Rappahannock United Way staff explain the logistics of the sort-a-thon. I was surrounded by Fredericksburg, Virginia, residents, all of whom were eager to sort children’s books, divvy up school supplies and create “kits” to help kids prepare for the school year ahead.

Once a month, United Way Worldwide employees can spend a day volunteering. It’s an opportunity for us to extend our support beyond helping the network from afar—to join the “boots on the ground.” I chose to lace my boots and contribute to my local United Way’s school readiness efforts. Rappahannock United Way is doing great work in the education space. When I heard about their sort-a-thon, I decided to contribute. I expected to give my time, and what I got was far more valuable.

The conference room was a bibliophile’s dream. There must have been a hundred books on tabletops, with volunteers organizing each. Nick, a Marine from nearby Marine Corps Base Quantico, drove 30 minutes to participate, and he was enjoying every second of it.

“I heard about the event from a volunteer coordinator on base,” said Nick. “I’m big into reading, and I like to support anything that has to do with youth and literature.”

Once the books were sorted and labeled, they were handed over to a crew of kit creators. Bags were filled with miscellaneous school items—from markers to notebooks—and given one book each before being set aside. It was a well-oiled assembly line of goodwill. I manned the supplies line, doling out cardboard paper for future coloring. To my right, a woman was talking about inspiring her sons to volunteer. Another woman, Geetha, commented on early learning.

“The beginning part of a child’s education is the most important,” said Geetha, a former nutritionist for Head Start. “Each month they don’t get the right education, they’re set back two months.”

All in all, the sort-a-thon was a hit, with dozens of people coming together to create hundreds of kits and set underprivileged children up for success. Personally, I was given a valuable reminder: Anything is possible when you combine your heart with hard work. Volunteering doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to be arduous, and you don’t need to be an expert. You just need to act.

One decision, one hour, one moment—you’ll get back tenfold what you give.

Press Release: United Way Forsyth County Recognizes Campaign Volunteers and Partner Agencies at Award Ceremony

WINSTON-SALEM, NC –  United Way Forsyth County Recognizes Campaign Volunteers and Partner Agencies  at Award Ceremony

On May 3, 2018, The United Way of Forsyth County hosted a thank you and award ceremony honoring partners, staff, volunteers and donors for their work during the 2017 campaign at the Center for Design Innovation.

Winners included:

Laura Harrell, Hall of Fame Award, Twin City Warehouse/Adele Knits- recognized for her thirty years of service as a campaign chair.

Wake Forest University, Personal Touch Award; Barbara Walker, the 2017 Campaign Chair, was also recognized for her hard work and organization of a successful campaign.

Campaign Chair of the Year Award: Dave Riser, Reynolds American Inc.; Riser was recognized for being instrumental in Reynolds American’s campaign which reached a goal of 2.2 million dollars.

Shining Star Award: Goodwill Industries of Northwest NC; Goodwill was recognized as a partner agency and true advocate for the United Way.

Advocates of the Year: Jennie Grant- Heaton, BB&T , Trisha Coleman, Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center; as leaders of our Young Leaders United and Women’s Leadership Council affinity groups.

Leader of the Year: Tony Smits John Deere-Hitachi, recognized for the company’s 65% participation rate and 31% increase campaign dollars raised.

Spirit of the Community Award: Quality Oil-recognizing their leadership as keen advocates and supporters of the United Way.

Special Guest Speakers included Andrea Kurtz, Senior Director, Housing Strategies who updated the attendees on the progress of the ten-year plan to end chronic homelessness. In 2006, the city of Winston-Salem, and Forsyth County adopted the Ten Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness. United Way of Forsyth County was chosen for its expertise and capacity to leverage community resources, coordinate collaborative projects and improve the system for all people experiencing a housing crisis. Since 2006, Chronic Veteran Homelessness has been eradicated and the number of the chronic homeless has been reduced from over 200 in 2006 to 17 (as documented in the January, 2018 Point in Time Count). Kurtz noted, “We continue to work towards a day when individuals are referred to their talents and contributions and not their housing status.”

Denita Mitchell, Program Director and former Client of the YWCA Hawley House spoke about her own recovery from substance abuse and how she moved from being a client of the Hawley House program to a member of the leadership team.  “I am very thankful to the United Way for supporting a program that helped me make a difference in my life”.

United Way of Forsyth County President and CEO, Cindy Gordineer noted, “One thing every strong community needs is a strong United Way. We are very fortunate to have a large network of partners that work with us collaboratively to ensure our entire community has access to a good life, as well as  our community volunteers who advocate passionately for those most in need. Thank you joining us in celebrating what it means to Live United over the past 95 years”.

 

Pictured: l-r: Dave Riser, VP External Relations, Reynolds American, Cindy Gordineer, President and CEO, United Way Forsyth County,  Dr. John D. McConnell, CEO Emeritus , Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone.

 

# # #

Press Release: United Way Helped More Than 2 Million Youth Prepare for College, Work & Life

Alexandria, Va. (May 2, 2018) – United Way Worldwide today announced it helped more than 2 million youth (ages 14 – 29) gain the knowledge, skills and credentials to succeed in school, work and life in 2016. That’s based on the 2017 Global Results Snapshot[1], a set of indicators that local United Ways report annually to demonstrate combined impact across communities. United Way invested in or led efforts to serve students in elementary through high school, ensuring that more students showed up for school, earned passing grades, developed soft skills, and received necessary training for success in school and ultimately the workplace to set them up for productive futures.

“The Global Results Snapshot demonstrates our progress against some of society’s toughest problems that prevent young people from gaining the skills and training they need to be relevant, get on a career track and secure successful futures,” said Mary Sellers, U.S. President of United Way Worldwide. “To make our communities strong, safe environments where everyone can thrive, we must continue to work together to ensure our youth emerge in the workforce ready to compete in the fast-changing world of work and primed for success.”

United Way achieved the following results:

  • 115,863 youth received job skills training
  • 98 percent of youth graduated on time
  • 80 percent of youth developed soft skills such as communication and time management
  • 86 percent maintained satisfactory or improved school attendance
  • 66 percent of youth gained post-secondary employment, further education or credentials

United Way also worked with volunteers, partner agencies and corporate partners to:

  • Advocate for 98 policies that promote youth success at the local or state level. In Seattle, WA, United Way helped enact the Homeless Youth Act, to ensure that youth discharged from institutions had a place to live. In Orange County, CA, United Way is leading an effort called Destination Graduation, which has helped more than 26,000 students stay in school
  • Train 7,583 staff in afterschool and summer programming, that provide middle and high school students supplemental resources, including mentoring, tutoring, academic enrichment in the arts and STEM subjects as well as exposure to college opportunities and career possibilities
  • Engage more than 3,500 United Way community partners – like Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the Scouts, 4-H and more – to provide enriching experiences after school and during the summer to help youth succeed

For nearly 130 years, United Way has been the unifying force that brings together community leaders, organized labor, faith-based groups, corporations, nonprofit organizations and governments. United Way is a worldwide network dedicated to building a better life and stronger community for everyone, serving over 61 million people each year.

An infographic of the 2016 Global Results Snapshot on youth success is here. To learn more about United Way’s work to fight for every person in every community, click here.

About United Way’s Global Results Snapshot

The Global Results Snapshot is a common, limited set of indicators that United Ways report on annually to demonstrate our shared impact across communities. The framework aggregates data across United Ways based on indicators in key impact areas: childhood success, youth success, economic mobility, access to health, and community engagement to demonstrate the collective investments the network is making to drive community change deliver results for individuals, families and communities.

[1] *The Global Results Snapshot represents data from 154 United Ways, reporting 2016 data in 2017 that represents 147,474,530 people in their respective metropolitan areas.

About United Way

United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. Supported by 2.9 million volunteers, 9.8 million donors worldwide and $4.7 billion raised every year, United Way is the world’s largest privately-funded nonprofit. We’re engaged in 1,800 communities across more than 40 countries and territories worldwide to create sustainable solutions to the challenges facing our communities. United Way partners include global, national and local businesses, nonprofits, government, civic and faith-based organizations, along with educators, labor leaders, health providers, senior citizens, students and more. For more information about United Way, please visit UnitedWay.org. Follow us on Twitter: @UnitedWay and #LiveUnited.

Press Release: 2018 Keith Vaughan, Peggy Taylor and the late John Taylor and Mitch Neuhauser Receive United Way of Forsyth County’s Highest Honors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WINSTON-SALEM, NC — April 17, 2018 Keith Vaughan, Peggy Taylor and the late John Taylor and Mitch Neuhauser Receive United Way of Forsyth County’s Highest Honors

On April 12, 2018, The United Way of Forsyth County recognized key philanthropic leaders in the community at its annual Tocqueville Leadership event.

Keith Vaughan was honored with the Paul Fulton Tocqueville Leadership Society Award.

The Paul Fulton Tocqueville Leadership Society Award was established in 1987 and is presented annually by the Society to an outstanding volunteer who has demonstrated untiring commitment, visionary leadership, resourcefulness and creativity in meeting the needs of our community.

Keith Vaughan is the Chair Emeritus of Womble Bond Dickinson, having served as the firm’s Chairman and Managing Partner from 2002 through 2015. He retired from the firm in January concluding almost 43 years in the practice of law – all at Womble Bond Dickinson.

Mitch Neuhauser, Chair of the Tocqueville Leadership Society, was named Volunteer of the Year. Neuhauser serves as Vice President and Assistant General Counsel at RAI Services Company.

Peggy Taylor and the legacy of her late husband John were honored with induction into the Million Dollar Roundtable

Peggy is an accomplished local artist and John was a Chapel Hill alum, an Army veteran, and a successful businessman.

John and Peggy started their own foundation in 2010. Throughout their life together, they were active members at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, supported UNC athletics and academics, and were instrumental in building and operating the Vision Tennis Center (now Taylor Tennis Center) in Clemmons, one of the first indoor tennis facilities in the area.

Through their support of United Way of Forsyth County, they impacted countless lives in our community. John’s giving spirit lives on today through his family and his legacy of quiet generosity.

The Million Dollar Roundtable is UWFC’s highest level of philanthropic giving and its members have invested a million dollars or more in the work of UWFC over the course of ten years or less. This critically important group of donors allows the work of UWFC to deepen and become more impactful through their generous investments. This award is recognized nationally by the United Way World Wide and locally by United Way of Forsyth County.

To date, United Way of Forsyth County has recognized four individuals or families.

PAST RECIPIENTS

2014 John and Mary Louise Burress

2015 Andy and Margery Brown

2016 Kelly and Eva Ann King

2017 John (late) and Peggy Taylor

# # #

 

Press Release: United Way of Forsyth County Announces 2017 Campaign Goal

Winston-Salem, NC – November 7, 2017 United Way of Forsyth County Announces 2017 Campaign Goal

United Way Forsyth County has announced that the 2017 community campaign goal has been set at $15.5 million.

Last year, United Way Forsyth County raised $15.1 million in its annual campaign and funded over 60 programs through over forty agencies which provided much needed assistance for more than 78,000 Forsyth County residents.

President and CEO, Cindy Gordineer notes, “We hope that the entire community will be inspired to join the fight to address our most pressing issues. Through collaboration and partnerships, we have seen the high school graduation rate rise from 70.7% to 86.5% since 2007, veteran homelessness has ended and through funding from United Way, close to 60,000 Forsyth County residents were provided with food they otherwise couldn’t afford last year. However we know that to sustain true change, there are always new ways to work together, more resources needed and more to accomplish. United Way has a unique role in that we work to solve problems that no one organization can address alone.”

Campaign Chair, CEO Emeritus of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Dr. John McConnell notes. “I am honored to serve as the 2017-2018 Campaign Chair. Since 1923, the Forsyth United Way has been serving individuals in our community and beyond. Because of the community’s involvement in the 2016 campaign we were able to decrease homelessness, improve preparedness for kindergarten, increase the high school graduation rate and help families become more financially secure. We know that as a community that when we unite in the fight, we all win.”

As of November 1, 2017, the campaign has raised 55% of its goal.

Press Release: United Way Forsyth County Moonlight Madness Event Raises $21,000

United Way of Forsyth County held its 2017 Campaign Kickoff Friday September 22 , 2017 with the Moonlight Madness 5K and Fun Run Event. Over 800 runners competed in the 5K run and over 1200 people attended the event held in Bailey Park. The first runner to cross the finish line was Kristin Weisse. The youngest participant was 2 years old and the oldest participant George Kimberly is 83. Junction 311 Race company managed the logistics of the race.

 

In addition to the race, United Way of Forsyth County also hosted the band Disco Lemonade , several partner agencies and provided giveaways and information about its work in the community. There was also a guitar raffle sponsored by Salem Music. A total of $21,000.00 was raised.

 

Director of Engagement, Amanda Rosemann notes, “I couldn’t be more thrilled about the success of our kickoff. We wanted to create an event that was open to the community and provided a night of fun and entertainment for everyone. Thank you to all of our sponsors , volunteers and staff who helped to make the night so memorable”.

 

Plans are already underway for next year’s race event.

 

Press Release: United Way of Forsyth County Thanks Community for their Support and Pledges to Continue To Make a Difference

WINSTON-SALEM, NC – United Way of Forsyth County (UWFC) raised a 2016 campaign total of $15.1 million, officials announced today. The annual campaign was part of UWFC’s total revenues of $18.2 million.

“We want to extend a special thanks to each of our generous donors, corporate supporters, volunteers and advocates who supported, enriched, and created positive change for the future of our community,” said John C. Fox, campaign chair and Chairman, Mid-Atlantic Region of First Tennessee Bank, National Association.

During the UWFC 2016 campaign, more than 19,530 donated, touching more than 72,000 Forsyth County residents through UWFC funded programs.

“When you give to United Way of Forsyth County, your dollars affect positive change in the lives of Forsyth County residents in a way that is unmatched by any other single organization,” said Cindy Gordineer, UWFC president and CEO.

Since 1923, UWFC has been leading the charge to make lasting improvements in Forsyth County.  Throughout its history, UWFC has been the community’s unifying force, bringing together community leaders, faith-based groups, corporations, non-profits and governments to work collaboratively.

 

Press Release: Reynolds American Employees Donated Nearly $1.3 Million to United Way of Forsyth County

WINSTON-SALEM, NC – Employees at Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) have contributed nearly $1.3 million to the United Way of Forsyth County campaign in 2016, the company announced recently.

Overall, RAI companies, affiliates, employees and private charitable foundations donated $13 million in value to nonprofit organizations in 2016.

“In addition to the highest-ever participation rates in our matching grants program, our employees continued to give back to the community by volunteering with numerous organizations in our communities, including United Way’s Days of Caring,” said Mamie Sutphin, RAI Services Company’s director of community engagement programs. “We were thrilled to receive United Way of North Carolina’s Spirit of NC Award for the third year in a row as we continue our long history of supporting organizations that bring the greatest impact to our community.”

“We are grateful to Reynolds American,” said Cindy Gordineer, United Way of Forsyth County president and CEO.  Our corporate partner campaigns are critically important to reaching our goals and enhancing our community. Such passionate and caring workplaces help Forsyth County create positive change . . . and great things happen when we Live United.”

The Reynolds American Foundation donated a total of $8.9 million last year, including funds donated to match grants made by employees. The Foundation’s largest contributions were to United Way of Forsyth County and surrounding area United Ways.