Over the holidays many people share in the spirit of the season, making an extra effort to give back during this festive time of the year. There are also examples of people all around us who know that any time of year is a good time to give.
These people do extraordinary things every day. From sharing their time and resources to showing incredible strength and courage, they inspire us by their example.
While local nonprofit organizations rely on monetary donations to thrive, many people have found a number of additional ways to support these important community resources. From the gift of time to sharing special skills and the contribution of essential items, the opportunities for everyday heroes are virtually limitless.
When it comes to advancing the common good, the United Way supports three key areas in the pursuit of a better lie for all - quality education that leads to a stable job, enough income to support a family through retirement and good health.
In an effort to ignite the Live United movement across the country, the United Way wants you to share your story. Whether you are a champion for education, income or health, you can help them create a movement of excited, hard-working people dedicated to making a difference in their communities.
As part of this effort, the Lake Area United Way (LAUW) launched its first-ever Everyday Community Heroes video contest.
“United Way’s call to action is to encourage people to ‘Live United,” Aaron McDermott who serves on the LAUW Board of Trustees, said. “By giving, advocating and volunteering together, we can create opportunities for a better life for everyone, and that’s what this ‘Everyday Community Hero’ contest celebrates.”
Videotaped nominations can focus on an individual (living or deceased) or a group, corporate team, club or class project (self-nominations are also welcome).
Submissions cannot exceed 90 seconds and are due by 11:59pm (CST) on February 3, 2013. The public can vote for their favorite video online until midnight, February 17. In addition to popular vote totals, a community panel will judge all entries.
The top-judged videos in each the LAUW’s three focus areas – education, financial stability and health – will be awarded cash prizes (three $1,500 and three $500 in all). Look for complete details online at www.lauwheores.org.
“We held two free videotaping booths at Purdue Cal and IU Northwest last month, and the response from the students was tremendous,” Bob Scott, LAUW’s Vice President of Marketing & Communications, said. “Despite going to college and working, many young people find time to volunteer, and hopefully their stories will inspire others to follow in their footsteps.”
For example, Cameron has been volunteering at a local hospital and regularly donating blood in an effort to give back after a blood transfusion saved his mother’s life when he was a young boy.
Renae, the executive director at Center for Possibilities in Hobart nominated Diana, a volunteer who helps make a difference in the lives of children and adults with development disabilities. Critically injured in an auto accident, Diana is also a person with special needs but shares her time, energy and personal resources to do anything she can to help out at the center.
Christina nominated her former high school English teacher who was swept away in the tide after saving the life of an unknown drowning child while on vacation.
As part of a class project, Cynthia and Ebony talked to a group of local fourth graders about bullying.
“It’s something we all have experience with, so we gave a presentation about the four types of bullying – verbal, physical, cyber and social. Since these are little people with opinions, we wanted to have a conversation with them. We asked a lot of questions, and they figured things out for themselves - like why it’s important to be open minded and recognize the fact that everybody is different,” Cynthia explained. “The assignment revolved around finding a community partner to work with, and in the end, we all felt personally connected to our projects. Another group’s project was the basis for a club at school that is creating a new awareness for people with disabilities. There’s so much that needs to be done - it can’t all be done by just one person.”
According to the United Way, advancing the common good is less about helping one person at a time and more about changing systems to help all of us. We are all connected and interdependent. We all win when a child succeeds in school, when families are financially stable, when people are healthy.
Through volunteerism we can all support the United Way’s goal of creating long-lasting changes by addressing the underlying causes of these problems. Living United means being a part of the change. It takes everyone in the community working together to create a brighter future.