By Debra Rogers, Women United Member and United Way Volunteer
I work for The Children’s Home of Lubbock. We are a nonprofit organization with a mission to rescue abused and neglected children and to restore broken families – and we are not a United Way Agency.
So why do I advocate on behalf of Lubbock Area United Way? Why do I volunteer my time to fundraise for United Way? Why do the employees of The Children’s Home choose to contribute to United Way? Because we are the Children’s Home of Lubbock, and Lubbock is our community. It is the community we love and that we support.
It is also a community where some folks struggle to survive – a community where there is poverty, illiteracy, and abuse. We work with those who are hurting, with children who have been traumatized, and with families who are broken.
We work hard to make things better, and we do a good job. But no single agency is able to address all the complex issues that Lubbock faces. We depend on the many partner agencies of United Way to provide the wrap-around services that help our children and families heal – agencies that provide preventive interventions, agencies that provide continued support for children who leave our care. Without United Way and its Community Partners, Lubbock would have many more cases of abuse and neglect. We would have a higher percentage of illiteracy, more chronic health issues, more unemployment, and more poverty.
I could tell you a hundred stories about the impact United Way has on at-risk children and families, but today, I want to tell one special story. I want to tell you about Cole. He is an intelligent, handsome 12-year-old. He has a loving family and lives in a good neighborhood. He also has mild Autism Spectrum Disorder. He doesn’t make eye contact well. Verbal communication and social interactions are difficult for him. He really doesn’t like change. He can become easily frustrated and much prefers to be by himself. This makes it difficult for him to make friends. It makes him a target for bullying. It makes school more of a struggle than it should be. I love Cole, and I want the best for him. He is my youngest grandson.
This last year, Cole joined Boy Scouts, one of the United Way Community Partners. He happens to be in the same troop that his father was in as a boy. The leaders of his troop took the time to get to know Cole and to learn how to best connect with him. They have been patient and encouraging. The other boys in the troop are respectful and include Cole. Through Boy Scouts, Cole has enjoyed adventures and challenges. He has learned to work with others, to accept more responsibility, and to be part of a team. He continues to make progress to be better able to build relationships, and I am forever grateful.
The money you give to United Way helps kids like Cole and so many more. Last year, United Way impacted over 120,000 lives across the South Plains – not just the “underprivileged’ or the high-risk populations, but your neighbors, your friends, perhaps even your family. United Way is what happens when we all rise together, so no one stands alone.