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Sunday, May 2, 2021 | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

By Heather Smith

I have been extremely fortunate in my career to work for two organizations that have earned reputations for caring about this community. During my time previously at United Supermarkets and now in my current role at Covenant Medical Group, both have welcomed and encouraged me to demonstrate my community spirit and give back by volunteering for Lubbock Area United Way. 

I first became involved in 2009 after hearing a speaker’s testimony at a campaign kickoff meeting and learning more about how I could help provide support for families in need. Filling out that pledge card was just the first step for me. Since then, I’ve been honored to serve in a variety of ways from the Loaned Executive program, to workplace campaigns, board service, and program review. When United Way CEO Glenn Cochran first mentioned the upcoming 75th Anniversary, I knew right away that I wanted to help. Coupling my professional capacity as a project manager with my volunteer work sounded amazing, and I happily accepted the placement to organize the initiative. 

For 75 years, dedicated volunteers and staff have worked together for a larger purpose. Collaborating extensively with local partner agencies, school districts, businesses, government entities and coalitions, they have created an institution dedicated to reconciling social and economic disparities. Since the beginning, they have strategically prioritized and funded programs to address the most significant challenges affecting the population at the time. With a relentless commitment to make things better for each generation, Lubbock Area United Way programs support work that attends to the whole person – hunger, education, healthcare, safety and well-being.

A core commitment has always been to ensure access to basic necessities regardless of a person’s ability to pay for services. Each year the volunteers and staff execute one of the most impactful charitable campaigns in the nonprofit sector. The funds raised here directly benefit families on the South Plains, making it possible for partners to provide their services at low cost, or in some cases, no cost at all. It is often said and bears repeating here; when you give to Lubbock Area United Way you are giving a hand up, not a handout. It’s a small sentiment with a big message – by eliminating the barrier of cost, the potential for human success is multiplied exponentially. Providing affordable access to a service that might otherwise not be obtained is just the first step in United Way’s mission of Giving • People • Hope.

Learn more about United Way’s 75th Annivesary Celebration.

In 1946, the founding members of the organization took on the charge of creating a stronger community. At the time, the practice of establishing a community chest was largely customary in the United States. By adopting this strategy, a community could promote teamwork among its social service agencies and unify their campaign efforts. With so many worthy fundraising projects, pooled campaigns characteristically raise more money and reduce the resources an individual agency must commit to conduct their own initiative. Community partners can remain focused on the critical work they do and likewise, donor fatigue is diminished by consolidating requests for financial support. Having studied this approach and the success of other similarly sized Texas cities, the founding members voted to proceed with overwhelming support in favor of setting up the Lubbock Community Chest which we now know as Lubbock Area United Way.

It is difficult in a few short moments to describe the true measure of what this organization has done for Lubbock and its South Plains neighbors. We hope that you’ll join us throughout the entire anniversary year as we connect and celebrate the United Way story through all of the countless volunteers, Community Partners, donors, board, and staff. Together we’ll reflect on 75 years of community impact and look toward the future of Giving • People • Hope.

Please join me in saying Happy 75th Anniversary, United Way! What a remarkable accomplishment.

Heather Smith is a member of Lubbock Area United Way’s Board of Directors and is serving as the 75th Anniversary Celebration Chair.

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