Thursday, August 11, 2011

Give Back Thursday

This week’s post is a little different as I’m going to talk about an opportunity that I was given this past week through work. The United Way is one of the charities that my husband and I support; it actually makes up a significant portion of our non-church charitable giving. I like the fact that the money stays local and helps the people in our area who really need it.

While my employer tries to keep United Way top of mind all year long through various fund raising opportunities, every fall there is a campaign drive where they generate the majority of their giving. This year as my employers is preparing the campaign; a few of us were invited to tour a few of the agencies that receive our donations.

All I can say is WOW! We toured the Boys and Girls facility, a domestic abuse shelter and heard presentations from a sexual assault crisis center as well as an agency that helped low income people with transitional housing. Did I know that there was need before this? Absolutely. Did I know statistically some of the things that were going on? Sure I did. However, to see the impact first hand and to hear from women who used these services was very moving.

Here are some of few take aways from my tour.
  • I am going to stop complaining about paying for field trips for my kids. At the Boys & Girls Club the majority of the kids they serve live in households that make under $20,000 annually. A significant portion make under $12,000 annually. The thought of how many times those mothers' need to say no to those sweet little faces made my heart break.
  • 1 out of every 3 girls will be sexually assaulted by the time she is 18. To put that in perspective, my Girl Scout troop was made up of 30 girls. That means that 10 of those girls will be assaulted by the time they reach 18. That is unfathomable to me.
  • The shelter that we toured provided shelter for 368 women in 2010. There were another almost 1,000 that received counseling services. Let me tell you, while they did everything they could to make the facility nice. I can’t imagine sharing a room the size of a dorm room with my family of 4+ or sharing with another mother and her child. My heart breaks for the women who have the need to use the facility. The journey they must have taken to get there and the lack of resources available to them is unimaginable to me in my very comfortable life.
If we don’t do something to break the cycle that these children live in the opportunity for this problem to grow is quite overwhelming. I’m very thankful that I was given the opportunity to tour these facilities. But it does make me question whether I’m doing enough. Not just with money but with my other talents and resources.

Very thought provoking and I'm going to be searching my heart to see what else I can do to help those who don't have the resources available to them that I do.

I'll be linking this up over at Living So Abundantly and Life in a Cookie Jar.


  1. I work in a 'Title 1' school, I see these kids every day. I know that when we plan things (trips, activities, etc) the faculty & staff of our school try to keep that in mind. The Boys & Girls Club works very closely with our school administration to help out those kids/families in need.

    I too am a Girl Scout Leader. One thing that I know (my 2 older kids & I being a Domestic Violence survivors ourselves) is try to empower 'my girls'. First make them aware. Then give them the opportunity to help. When our Service Unit has events, part of the 'fee' to come to these events is to bring a donation for these facilities. One thing that I pride myself on is that our group is pretty open & honest with one another... we our each others 'safe-house'. We discuss what can/could happen and what measures to take if that does.

    Another thing that my GS Troop has done is collect cell phones. Any cell phone can dial 911 to get help, even if you don't have a cell plan or minutes.

    My kids (on their birthdays) have built 'Birthday Boxes'. The box includes a cake mix, frosting, birthday candles, a small gift, wrapping paper & tape. A card wishing 'whoever receives this basket' a Happy Birthday. Then we donate it to a local food pantry (one that serves the families mentioned above) I've found that when THEY contribute, it makes a bigger & lasting impression on them. They are aware & take the time to care.

  2. That is definitely thought-provoking. Now, I just need to figure out ways to help. Your posts are so rich and challenging--very appreciated and needed!

  3. I absolutely love the idea of the birthday boxes! One idea that I've been kicking around (time may be an issue depending on what days are available) is to work at a food pantry once or twice a month. It's so easy to get into 'poor me' moods, having a constant reminder would be good. Those are some good ideas for the GS troop. Our troop is disbanded now (the girls are all entering high school) but I found that the girls always got excited about service projects too.

  4. Oh, it's so easy to assume all children are raised in loving home -- safe from abuse of any kind. These statistics are staggering and heartbreaking. Thank you for bringing it to my attention and helping me to understand The United Way a bit more.


  5. what a wonderful post! I remember when I was in the military there was always a huge United Way drive that we were encouraged to give to. I always gave not really knowing where my money went. Now i know!!

  6. Pamela & Georgia - I know there are a lot of needy charities about there but I think the United Way is an excellent way for my money to be the most impactful. I'm just thankful that we haven't had to use any of the services the support but if I would ever need them that they would be there.

    Thanks for visiting!