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I’ve always valued being an active member of the communities I’ve lived in throughout my life. Whether its volunteering or donating, its been a part of my sense of duty to myself and my community. Helping others helps us all! But I admit I wasn’t always sure if I was “doing it right” or “giving enough”. It can be intimidating and hard to feel like you’re making a difference.

Most of us live in smaller cities, towns or rural areas. It can be hard to know where to give, much less who to give to! Many of us live in one community, and work in another. When we give our time or money, we want to know that its going to be invested in the place we’ve made our home, and that’s a reasonable expectation!

It wasn’t until I joined the board of the United Way that I really understood and was able to see the benefits of giving to the United Way. There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into ensuring your donations go where they’re needed most and will make the most impact. As trustees of your funds, we take our job seriously, and want to honor the wishes of our donors. We’re always looking for ways to ensure you get “the best bang for your buck”. We carefully select our partner agencies at a local level and ensure that they are using funds appropriately and impactfully. We’re here to help take the guessing game out of it for you!  No donation is too small. The mission of the United Way is to ensure every donation, no matter how big or small, gets put to good use on quality programs that are relevant and beneficial to our community.

Whether you have certain causes near and dear to your heart, such as health, education, or financial stability, or if there’s a specific agency that you feel matches your personal values best, the United Way has multiple avenues for you to donate and have a say in where that money goes. If your place of employment partners with the United Way campaign every year, that’s the easiest way to give. Know that your money is going directly to fund local agencies, and if you work in one city and live in another, you are able to direct your donations to the United Way that serves the community where you live. If there is a specific agency that you prefer to give to, you may designate those dollars to that specific agency, whether it’s a United Way partner agency or not. We will ensure your money goes where you’ve designated!

2020 was a rough year for many, and although things are looking up, 2021 has still brought many new challenges. Needs are constantly changing within our communities and the United Way is rising to the occasion. We’ve listened to what the communities we serve have voiced as their most pressing issues, and shifted our focus and energy to ensure we’re meeting those immediate needs. As a new campaign year begins in the next couple months, we hope you will choose to give to the United Way and help us pursue our mission to fund the agencies and programs that help our neighbors, friends and families and make our communities stronger. As I said before, helping others helps us all!

Chris VanGundy
Senior Health, Safety & Environment Engineer, Valero
United Way Board Member