By Laura Vinson
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal | August 28, 2022
I began volunteering with Lubbock Area United Way some 20 years ago, and it is my privilege to chair this year’s Annual Campaign. One of my first volunteer opportunities was through Program Review. This annual process equips and trains volunteers to review agency programs and outcomes to ensure accountability and transparency within the nonprofits United Way supports. For volunteers, it’s an opportunity to see the full impact of how donations are used. That year, our team reviewed the Boys and Girls Club of Lubbock.
The first step of Program Review is a site visit, where agency representatives share about their United Way-funded programs firsthand. Our site visit with the Boys and Girls Club was at the Optimist Club in north Lubbock. We toured the facility and saw their afterschool program in action. Club members participated in tutoring, athletics, and activities of all kinds and receive a hot meal before going home.
Our team had the opportunity to talk with some of the club members. I distinctly remember asking one little girl if she liked it at the Club. She responded with a polite, “Yes, ma’am.”
I then rather casually asked her, “Where would you go if you didn’t come to the Club?” At that point, she stopped and really thought for a second.
“I don’t know,” she said, “I don’t have anywhere else to go.”
That moment is one of the reasons I have stayed involved with United Way over the years. It brought home to me the difference Lubbock Area United Way and its 23 Community Partners make.
Maybe there were other options for this young lady. But this little girl knew when she came to the Optimist Club, she would have fun activities, help with schoolwork, and people who cared about her. For her parent or caregiver, the Club provided an affordable option where they could be sure she was safe and receiving quality care. Although my children are adults, I remember well being a working mom and the challenge and need to have my kids well-cared for during the afternoon hours before my husband and I got off work.
I often wonder where that little girl is now. She’d be about 27 or 28. She may be a mom herself with kids going to quality childcare through a United Way partner. I wonder if her time at the Boys and Girls Club shaped her into a person she might not have otherwise been. I’d like to believe it did. That kind of change happens because of the invaluable support of the South Plains community for United Way.
Each year, the Campaign Chair has an opportunity to choose a theme for the Annual Campaign. I have chosen the theme of light.
Even in a vacuum, there is never complete darkness. Particles of light are always bouncing around. For our neighbors (and sometimes ourselves) who are in a dark place for whatever reason, United Way finds them and shines a light into the darkness. The partner agencies light a path for them to find their way. It is possible because thousands of individuals allow the light to shine within them, through their financial gifts, their advocacy, and their volunteerism.
United Way lives and breathes and grows with Lubbock as needs change, new challenges arise, and solutions are found. Just as light is always moving around us, United Way is not static. As we begin the 2022 Campaign, I want you to know that your help, combined with the gifts of thousands of our neighbors, can fuel our United Way and our Community Partners to move the needle on these challenges.
I ask that you step just a bit deeper into the light this year as we kick off our campaign. Your donation may help a little girl like the one I met at the Boys and Girls Club. However it helps, you are part of the light. So, I hope you’ll think about how you will shine your light as you consider your participation in this year’s campaign.
Laura Vinson is a Senior Vice President at Prosperity Bank and the 2022 United Way Campaign Chair.
The Lubbock Area United Way Campaign runs through November 1, 2022. You can make your gift and find out more about United Way and its Community Partners at www.liveunitedlubbock.org or by calling 806.747.2711.