Giving to United Way of Washtenaw County’s annual campaign strengthens many local causes
United Way of Washtenaw County’s new President Pam Smith is excited to join the organization at the beginning of its Annual Campaign. Her first major order of business is to make sure it is successful.
This year’s Annual Campaign celebrates the organization’s 90th anniversary with its theme, “Continuous Commitment to Our Community.” It is a fitting theme for such a milestone birthday, “as a testament to generations of families giving,” Smith says. “It’s grandparents and parents teaching the younger generation that giving a financial gift, volunteer hours, and advocacy is important,” she explains.
“How are we engaging future generations to be concerned with their community and what can young people do to effect change?” Smith asks.
The United Way of Washtenaw County currently funds more than 40 different nonprofit agencies through the Annual Campaign and participates in coordinated funding with the Office of Community and Economic Development, a collaboration of Washtenaw County, City of Ann Arbor, and Urban Counties, and the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation. United Way works to identify the most critical needs in the community related to three major areas; education, income (financial stability), and health. United Way of Washtenaw County’s Community Investment Fund provides resources for programs in the areas of early childhood care and education, hunger relief, senior assistance, health safety net, homelessness and housing, and school aged youth.
“We cover a wide variety of critical needs in our community,” Smith says.
“It was such a blessing to start the job with the Annual Campaign. Our kickoff event, which occurred on September 5, clearly demonstrated to me that people in Washtenaw County care and want to be involved in their community,” says Smith, a long-time nonprofit executive.
With over 200 people in attendance at the Annual Campaign kickoff, Smith was struck by how United Way supporters cover the entire playing field, “from individuals giving small donations that add up to big results, to corporations and businesses partnering with us to strengthen the safety net of services,” she explains.
Before joining the United Way, Smith was the executive director of local nonprofit Child Care Network for four and a half years. She served the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum for nine years prior to that as a director of public affairs and marketing.
Smith has set, as a personal priority, to “connect with all of the nonprofit agencies located in Washtenaw County that are doing vital, critical work. Government and individuals can’t do everything, so these agencies step in to fill the void with critical services. Nonprofits do tremendous work and provide a safety net. United Way’s role in that is to strengthen that safety net,” Smith says.
Beyond donations, United Way of Washtenaw County supports volunteer efforts through “Days of Caring” and the National Day of Action. Additionally, people can find volunteer opportunities in Washtenaw County anytime of year by visiting the online volunteer portal www.volunteerwashtenaw.org
United Way of Washtenaw County is located at 2305 Platt Road. You can reach them by phone at (734) 971-8200 or visit http://uwgive.org to give and get involved.