Lubbock Area United Way still in business of giving people hope
October 24, 2021| Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
It was shortly after the end of World War II – a time of optimism throughout America. A time to move forward and to do so together.
The year was 1946, and the idea of an organized way for local people to care for other local people was gaining traction in Lubbock.
In the end, the Lubbock Community Chest was born. At the time, the bustling city’s population was approximately 50,000. In the 75 years since, both have grown substantially with the Community Chest evolving into what today is known as the Lubbock Area United Way and Lubbock becoming a metropolitan city of some 300,000.
Over seven-plus decades, the local United Way has raised more than $190 million from a community where generosity historically has been both extravagant and contagious. This year’s campaign, celebrating its 75th anniversary, started in late August, and the organization provided an update recently at its annual Mid-Campaign Report Luncheon.
Although the event occurs roughly halfway through the campaign, the hope is that more than 60% of the goal has been reached.
To the credit of campaign chair Mark Griffin and a vast array of tireless and energetic volunteers, officials announced that just more than $3.6 million had been raised toward this year’s goal of more than $5.8 million. For the record, that represents 62.4%.
“I hope what you’ve experienced today has made you immensely proud to be part of Lubbock Area United Way,” Laura Vinson, the campaign’s vice chair said during the meeting. “There are so many stories that make up our 75-year history. Each is relevant to the needs of the community at the time, and United Way continues to be relevant today.”
There should be no doubt about the crucial role the local United Way has played in helping shape, guide, and influence the community. While the annual campaign is likely the most highly visible public part of that business year in and year out, the organization is about so much more than its fundraising work.
For example, just this past week, the Lubbock Area United Way pulled off the fourth annual United We Read event as more than 400 volunteers visited second-grade classrooms in nine Lubbock County school districts and read the same book at the same time to some 3,600 students.
Volunteers and students read the book “Ish” by Peter H. Reynolds with students receiving a copy of the book afterward.
That is the staying power of the organization’s brand.
And it has always been that way. Those first days of existence brought partnerships with five agencies, four of which remain beneath the local United Way’s umbrella: the Boys & Girls Club, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, and the Salvation Army. In 1949, the Carver Heights Nursery became a partner, the first nursery in the city to serve African American children and their families.
A sustained strategic focus on tackling the community’s most pressing challenges has long been a Lubbock Area United Way hallmark. More than 20 years ago, the organization published its first Community Status Report, which provided important information about the county that could be used to improve local services.
Other initiatives include its partnership with the South Plains Coalition for Child Abuse Prevention in creating Go Blue Lubbock, which calls attention to child abuse prevention every April; broadening the Voice of Hope’s work in building sex trafficking awareness; and partnering with the Community Foundation of West Texas to create the South Plains COVID-19 Relief Fund, which disbursed more than $1.6 million to meet pandemic-related needs.
Most important, what the organization did then, it continues to do now and every day: Giving People Hope.
While the campaign is in its home stretch, its most challenging and difficult work remains. The community partners of the Lubbock Area United Way impact thousands of lives in ways seen and unseen. We applaud their work and the devoted efforts of their staff to delivering hope one day and one person at a time.
For those who have not had a chance to support this year’s campaign, we encourage you to do so by visiting the organization’s website at liveunitedlubbock.org.
Every gift matters and no gift is too small because every gift provides hope.