Op-Ed: United Way needed now more than ever
November 8, 2020 | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
By Glenn Cochran, President and CEO
Addressing needs on the South Plains for 74 years
For seventy-four years Lubbock Area United Way has worked to address needs and provide services for people in our community. Those needs come in many forms. It could be assisting victims of abuse, helping those who have lost their home in a fire, providing for medical and dental needs for low-income elderly, counseling support for mental health issues, or a wide variety of many other services.
United Way operates with the mindset of looking at needs from a long-term perspective. We are always evaluating how donors’ contributions can best be used to create positive, lasting change, while at the same time providing help for those types of immediate needs described above.
Responding to COVID-19
When the COVID-19 pandemic came calling this past spring the immediate needs throughout our community quickly became much more serious and wide-spread. Many families were suddenly put in the new position of not having the income they once had, and for many, the needs spiraled out of control. Suddenly, there were concerns about meeting the very basics of feeding a family, paying the rent and utilities, and finding childcare so parents could work.
By the end of March, Lubbock Area United Way and the Community Foundation of West Texas provided lead gifts and partnered to create the South Plains COVID-19 Relief Fund. Within 90 days the fund provided more than $1.6 million to address the sudden explosion of basic needs. Through the generosity of local foundations, the local banking community, other businesses, and many individuals, our community was able to step up and meet these new challenges.
While many thousands of people were helped, not every need was met. As the pandemic continues to adversely affect our community, the needs are greater now than ever. That is what makes the success of this year’s United Way campaign even more critical.
As the pandemic continues to adversely affect our community, the needs are greater now than ever. That is what makes the success of this year’s United Way campaign even more critical.
Nonprofits need your support to continue providing services
United Way’s 23 Community Partners rely on funding from contributions to the annual campaign to continue meeting needs throughout the coming year. These organizations have already missed out on numerous fundraising programs and events in 2020.
All this correlates to decreased revenue that hampers these organizations’ ability to meet the needs of those who rely on their services. Each agency has had to make financial adjustments just to make it through the year. I understand quite well that this is no different than what many other businesses in our community are facing right now. Yet, when our neighbors whose income is negatively affected because of business disruptions find themselves in need of assistance, where do they turn for help? Many look to nonprofit organizations like United Way’s Community Partners.
At a meeting of our campaign leadership earlier this week, a volunteer stated the all-too-obvious that when the year began, we could not have imagined a more challenging fundraising environment. True enough, but there is no place I would rather be to weather this storm than right here in Lubbock.
Together, we can rise to meet this challenge
This year’s United Way campaign has already faced many new challenges. Some of our long-time supporters are just not in the position to help as they have before. Others have stepped up their support because they are able to and they recognize the increased needs. Through it all, United Way recognizes and appreciates every contribution, no matter its size.
Our community has risen to meet whatever challenges are facing us many times before. As one community we will persevere and find a way to take care of our neighbors in need. United Way and our Community Partners must help those who have little hope for the future. United Way is needed now more than ever.
As one community we will persevere and find a way to take care of our neighbors in need.