Great things are done by a series of small things brought together. When Vincent Van Gogh first spotted his now memorable line, he didn’t know anything about United Ways or collective impact. Yet I believe that if he had known what we do and what our approaches are, I believe these are the words he would have used to describe when he was seeing.
It is been another one of those seasonal whirlwinds inside our office over the last three weeks. If you could have been a fly on the wall, well the fact is you would have been dizzy. Our team has been out in the Community in so many different avenues. We’ve been spending a lot of time helping to ensure the kids in our community are ready to go back to school and that they feel well equipped to start a new year. For us that means distributing backpacks to those in need and delivering classroom kits so that teachers have some extra supplies on hand for any kids who may show up a little less than ready on the first day. We’ve partnered with lots of different stakeholders in several different communities to ensure that our impact was widespread. From the mayor of Ripley to the local FRN’s to the public libraries. These partnerships have helped to make sure that both our messaging and our materials were reaching those who needed it the most. We’ve been on the ground with our friends from Mountaineer FoodBank, bringing mobile pantries into communities where food access is sometimes an issue. We have been partnering with community events across our footprint and traveling with our 211 information. 211 is a life changer and a life saver and we’re determined to get the word out so that everyone and our community knows this is an available resource.
We’ve been remodeling and rehabbing Little Free Libraries around the community. Our team has been distributing children’s books and oral hygiene kits to children across the MOV. During the summer months we partnered with a local business that collected food for area pantries. Last week we were able to deliver that food to pantries in the downtown area whose stocks were running low. We received a donation of hundreds of computers from an area business who wanted to give them to local nonprofits but wasn’t sure how to make that happen. We will be working in the coming weeks to deliver those computers to agencies that will be profoundly impacted by that increased capacity. Our friends at Penske recognize the level of movement and the volume of services we were delivering and offered up a truck for several days to better facilitate our work. While it all sounds overwhelming and the list seems endless, there are details that have been left out and projects that have been overlooked in my long list. Yet with all this intensely organized chaos, this is not highly unusual for our team. We have lots of seasons of busy. We have an ongoing season of impact. Despite the days that have been at times unseasonably warm, when our team has wrapped long and late hours, feeling more tired than usual, I continue to hear a common thread of feedback. They continually and repeatedly return from outreach events, and as are unpacking heavy boxes and re-loading oversized trucks, they tell me how much they love their jobs. They tell me how lucky they feel to be a part of what is happening in our community. The express genuine gratitude for the opportunity to see first hand the critical needs and the well-timed impact.
We have some truly amazing people on this United Way team. We also have some incredible partners in this community who step up time and time again and answer our call for help. Our community partners think creatively and offer resources we sometimes don’t even know we need. In isolated moments it could seem small. 52 backpacks here…. 78 backpacks there…20 boxes of food…… but when we step back and look at the full picture, the impact is real, and it is making a difference! Our team is humbled and honored to serve this community. We are thankful for all of those who give, who advocate, AND volunteer to ensure that our plans and intentions come to fruition. The change isn’t made in a day, or a month or even a year…but the change is possible, and it is happening. If Van Gogh were here to survey the efforts being led in our community, I feel quite confident that he would give pause and reiterate….great things are done by a series of small things brought together. Join our fight, take that first step…be a part of something great!