*Originally published September 14, 2016
The economy is turning around in a good way, albeit slowly. We continue to face tough choices about where to give dollars to help us all. And as we do so, there can be no better a recipient than United Way of Forsyth County, which, now, more than ever before, is concentrated on programs aimed at bettering us all, from raising graduation rates to improving neighborhoods.
Under United Way head Cindy Gordineer, the local agency is focusing on that concentration through a new range of initiatives and ways of working with the community. The agency, through its partner organizations, is continuing to meet basic needs such as food, shelter and housing. But through its new efforts, most notably the targeted neighborhood work of “Place Matters in eastern Winston-Salem,” the local United Way is striving to help create a culture where those basic needs won’t become as urgent, a culture where we all move forward together.
“There is a synergy,” this year’s campaign chairman, John Fox of First Tennessee Bank, recently told our editorial board.
United Way of Forsyth County has a set a campaign goal with a range of $16.3 to $16.5 million. It’s well worth support. There’s no other agency to which you can give that better spreads effective benevolence, especially in a time when financial support from the state and federal governments is not what it should be.
The local agency is a fine steward of the donations to which it is entrusted. It has become strategic, encouraging the organizations with which it works to combine their efforts when possible to avoid duplication and maximize results. The local agency is continuing its strong work of being pro-active rather than reactive. For example, the agency has played a leading role in the fight to raise graduation rates in the local school system to 90 percent by 2018, a goal that is finally within sight.
Gordineer and Fox are committed to creatively confronting challenges head-on. To continue that work, they’re appealing to a wide a range of donors — they call them “investors” — in our future.
The local United Way won’t abandon its commitment to basic needs, because, among other things, “You can’t learn if you’re hungry,” Fox noted.
Fox and Gordineer are confident that the agency can meet the campaign goal. We are changing, but some things remains the same. “We do have the advantage of history,” Fox said. “This has been a very generous community.”
We’ve markedly changed, from a county that depended on the benevolence of a few strong factory-owning families, one where a worker could make a good living with a high-school diploma, to one where company headquarters are mainly out of town and a community-college education is the bare minimum for success. The local United Way has rightly changed with those times. Its efforts have never been more needed.