Script for United Way campaign speech, 2015.
Thank you for allowing me to be here today. But most importantly, I want to thank you on behalf of the thousands of people that you have helped through your donation. If you are anything like me, you don’t think you are spending your day to day helping an individual in Glenshaw while you are sitting in this meeting, but let me assure you that you are. By giving to United Way, your dollars, multiply with the dollars of tens of thousands of other peoples dollars, thousands of volunteer hours and the hard work of the employees of United Way partner agencies to make a strong and lasting impact on people that you will never meet.
I am happy to say that we as a community raised over34 million dollars to address these needs. But the exciting thing, the thing to be proud of is not the dollars raised last year---it is what those dollars are doing this year. The dollars you pledged last year are now out in our community doing great things in the lives of thousands of individuals and families that are facing problems they never expected to deal with.
If you gave last year, you may be thinking…great, my gift worked. If you didn’t give, you may be thinking, that’s great. They’re doing well without my help.
If only it were that simple.
Unfortunately, we know that we can’t rest. For the last few years, we have seen an unprecedented number of people in Allegheny County that need help. And the economy and job market is such that they are not able to get out of the problems they find themselves in as easily as folks have in years past.
And we know that we are facing cuts in governmental funding on both the state and federal level.
I was an English major and can’t always be counted on for my math skills, but I know that Increased Need + Decreased dollars = A lack of services. Needs that will be unmet.
So that is depressing and daunting. You’re not in Harrisburg. You’re not in charge of a foundation with millions to give away. How do you and how do I come together and help? Join with me and over 55,000 of your friends, coworkers and neighbors and give through this year’s United Way campaign.
As always, you can direct your gift---if there is an issue or area that speaks to you or has affected your family. But I am here to talk to you about how you can ensure that your gift makes the biggest difference in the lives of Pittsburghers through the work of United Way’s Impact Fund.
United Way looks at the community and we have identified 4 major areas that we need to focus on—Children and Youth, Financially Struggling Families, seniors and Adults and young adults with disabilities. You have heard me describe these areas of the Impact fund before, but today I want to focus on some aspects of the Impact Fund that you may not know.
First, the impact fund stays local. Who in this room knows a little old Pittsburgher? They’re probably the neighbor that knows everything that’s happening in the neighborhood. Heck, you may even be related to one. I have one. Carmella. Carmella is the little Italian Grandma I never had! I see her every Sunday morning at 10 am mass. And believe me, if there is a Sunday she doesn’t see me, I hear about it!
We want to make sure that we are taking care of the seniors like Carmella in our community. Did you know that every 24 Minutes a senior dies because of a fall? And every 14 seconds, a senior is admitted to the ER because of a fall. While falls aren’t totally preventable, there is a lot we can do to reduce them. Something as simple as installing a few grab bars, or fixing a railing on steps. Last year, United Way’s Open your Heart to a Senior program made 350 homes safer for seniors with the help of hundreds of volunteers. Close to 95% report falling less and feeling safer in their home. Since 2014, we have helped 14,240 LOCAL seniors to remain living at home. And the impact goes beyond just those seniors It would cost 12.7 M to support them in a nursing home
Next, your donation to United Way impacts the lives of those in need every day. Last year, our Helping Families Thrive program served over 23,000 families. Helping 2,518 families maintain housing or avoid homelessness, and 526 of those served are Veterans!
Also, United Way has Resources and Access. No other single non-profit organization can mobilize the community and leverage its collective financial and problem solving resources the way United Way can. One example is our Be a Middle School Mentor program. We have been nationally recognized for this unique partnership of Pittsburgh Public School, local agencies and hundreds of volunteers, usually through corporations just like yours. But it’s not just about the number of kids that now have a caring mentor. Did you know that 84% of Be a Middle School Mentor students have a Pittsburgh Promise ready attendance rate? It’s only through our collective resources that we can make that kind of impact.
United Way also prides ourselves on efficiently identifying and addressing local concerns and providing easy ways for the community to engage. Last year, the Money in your Pocket Collation, another collaborative effort of United Way and high performing local agencies, served 6,700 low-income families with an average annual income $11,900 and 2-3 W2s. Over 192 volunteers spent over 50 hours each helping low-income working families prepare tax returns. And this is an extremely cost efficient program--We put in 350,000 it brings nearly 12 million back to families and Allegheny County.
And finally, it’s not enough to put the same band-aids on the same problems. We must build on our strengths by testing new strategies to address our community’s most pressing issues. I want to share with you a simple innovation that is helping to address a complex problem. When students with disabilities are ready to graduate at the age of 21, we need to make sure they are set up to succeed. In order to make sure that the students, parents and school districts are thinking about this important transition, we created a transitions checklist. Yes, in this era of digital advances, it was innovative to create a checklist. We piloted it in 3 local school districts. And we are happy to say that the PA Bureau of Special Education has adopted the checklist and using it to train teaching staff across PA, and the State looking it to make it a required standard.
So on behalf the thousands of people in our community that you helped last year, I thank you for your donation. You have changed their lives.
And I ask that you consider giving to the United Way so we can continue changing lives.
If you have given in the past, please consider giving again. And, if possible, please consider increasing your gift to help fund what United Way is doing.
If you have never given, please consider giving for the first time. Your gift, no matter what the size, goes a long way in helping individuals in our community.
Please join me to continue changing lives.