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Article published December 8, 2012
Give to United Way
Robert A. Marchese Executive director Victim Outreach Intervention Center (VOICe)
The Thanksgiving-to-Christmas season is the traditional time in America for giving thanks for what we have, while enjoying the happiness of the season. We as a community have been struck to the core these past few years, just like many millions of other Americans. The ongoing, struggling economic picture in America, coupled with high unemployment and additional layoffs, adds to the worry of many families. These statistics we see do not reflect the alarming number of underemployed, or those who have given up searching for work. Despite the struggles, there is a resilient, gracious spirit in the remarkable people of Butler County. These difficult times prompt us to reflect daily and recognize, appreciate and give thanks for all the blessings that we do have. At these times, many must rely on assistance from a charitable organization. One of the best is United Way of Butler County. During its 2012-13 campaign, Butler County United Way’s goal is to raise $1.7 million to continue much-needed funding for programs that support education and economic opportunity for all. Currently, our local United Way is working to strengthen and enlarge mentoring and school partnership programs to help prepare and connect our children for the future workforce in this region. They also hope to build child care scholarships and support programs that help families obtain and maintain sustaining jobs. After a downturn in funding that has strained nonprofits nationwide and sparked concern about further charity fatigue, many in our midst would have predicted and planned for less this year. Given current economic conditions, lower expectations probably would be a greater indication of being realistic than being pessimistic. However, failure is not an option for United Way executive director Leslie Osche and her staff. Their commitment and recognition of a growing need, combined with a positive spirit, have driven them to success. As an agency executive director, and someone new to this area, I see the tears and look into the eyes of the troubled. Few people understand the acute pain and distress one endures when a homeless person asks you “May I have another slice of bread?” in a soup kitchen line, or the time spent with a 10-year-old boy who shares that his mom was beaten by her boyfriend. Seniors, who sometimes are most vulnerable, have difficulty as their children move away for employment, yet the compassion of United Way comes through in each case, helping, easing pain and comforting those most in need. Giving even a few dollars to the United Way campaign is important, not because of the dollar amount, but because of everything it does. If we all give something, then we can continue to build on the culture of philanthropy that is the hallmark of Butler County. I hope all county residents will consider a gift or pledge of some financial support to the United Way campaign.