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Hensley: More important to focus on what we have than dwell on what we don’t

December 1, 2018 | Source: A-J Media

By Doug Hensley

I have a friend who always reminds me that we will find what we’re looking for in people or situations. If we look for bad things, we will find them. Likewise, if we look for the good, we will find it.

It is in the spirit of that wisdom in which I look at the recent Lubbock Area United Way campaign that I was fortunate to chair. The work of hundreds of volunteers and the generosity of thousands of donors has generated almost $5.8 million so far this year. That is a tremendous amount of money and something I am extremely grateful for.

Now, as many know, we have not reached the goal ... yet. In August, using a complicated formula that is both art and science, the United Way staff and the campaign cabinet (the group that leads campaign efforts) established a goal of $5,935,151. Right now we are hovering around 98 percent, and we have extended the campaign in anticipation of announcing in January that the goal has been reached.

Like so many others, I am disappointed we were unable to hit our mark in the prescribed window of time. That sentiment is shared by campaign vice chairs, the United Way staff, our board members and lots and lots of people around the city. However, I believe it is more important to focus on what we have than dwell on what we don’t. For that reason, we have adopted a mentality of celebration in the aftermath of last Tuesday’s “official” announcement of the amount raised.

Based on the decades of generosity I have witnessed firsthand as a West Texas resident and United Way volunteer, I am extremely hopeful we will hit the goal in January. We have workplace campaigns continuing to run, and we have tireless volunteers whose boots are still on the ground tying up assorted loose ends.

Without divulging any trade secrets, we knew going into the 2018 campaign that we would face some headwinds. It took an incredible effort down the stretch by campaign chair Jon Stephens and his team last year to reach the goal. Typically, campaigns have a semi-predictable lifespan: Awesome start, medium momentum by mid-campaign report and a hard-fought sprint down the stretch.

That happens every year, as my fellow campaign chairs can testify, although every once in a while there is a perfect storm of conditions that allows a campaign to roll along almost effortlessly, but that is a rare phenomenon, by the way.

Most other years, the United Way staff has good insight on what it will take to reach the goal and what obstacles might be encountered along the way. The organization has a great handle on the pulse of the community and the leadership team there does a great job getting out in front of and strategizing about the challenges every year. That’s just part of the landscape of running an annual multimillion dollar fundraising effort. There are lots and lots of moving parts. Like any organization, we put talented people in place and do everything we can to make them successful.

Regardless of all that, our message to the community is an enthusiastic THANK YOU. I am grateful to have been entrusted with this responsibility, grateful to have worked with and learned from so many talented people at the United Way office and among the volunteers, and grateful for the boundless spirit of giving that pervades the South Plains. I often joked with the team about how the campaign would go in “my perfect little world.” In that world, it has been an incredibly enjoyable and rewarding experience. Thank you for your financial support and thank you for the service many of you have given to United Way and its community partners. Your big hearts have helped so many.

The Lubbock Area United Way does great work and it does so the right way. Accountability and transparency continue to be the calling cards of the organization and its 23 community partners. The money raised here stays here and helps people here. I am thoroughly convinced our United Way makes a difference not just in the lives of other people, but in the life of this community we are so fortunate to call home. It continues to give people hope at times and places in their lives when there may not be much hope to go around.

That said, I would encourage those who have not had a chance to contribute or are maybe hearing about the Lubbock Area United Way for the first time to consider helping the organization reach the goal. There is still time to give someone else hope. For information on how to contribute, visit www.liveunitedlubbock.org or call (806) 747-2711.

Finally, I want to thank the Avalanche-Journal for this forum. As a new employee here, we had a discussion about the perceptions surrounding making this space available. I am confident the A-J would have responded with a similarly generous offer wherever I was employed or whomever was the campaign chair.

Doug Hensley is the regional associate editor and director of commentary for A-J Media.

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