By Norval Pollard, United Way Volunteer and recipient of the 2019 Rita Harmon Volunteer Service Award
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” — William Shakespeare
I have been a Lubbock Area United Way volunteer in some form or fashion for some 30 years. I say that with a great deal of pride and joy because I realize I have done something significant, something bigger than myself, something I could have never achieved alone.
I have been a small part of an incredible organization that makes a profound difference every day in our community and has done so for close to 75 years.
That’s what the United Way is; hundreds upon hundreds of good-hearted Samaritans who pool their pennies and prayers and time and talents to help lift the burdens of some of their fellow citizens who need a helping hand in a world that unfortunately doesn’t always offer everyone the same opportunities or advantages.
That matters most to the United Way. Its mission, through the 23 partner agencies it helps fund through its annual campaign, is to attempt to fill in some of those potholes in the road of life, to make the journey for some just a little smoother. To put it simply: to address needs and remove barriers.
If you have been involved with United Way for any length of time you probably have a favorite story or two that personalizes the sheer impact of Giving • People • Hope.
My “ah-ha” moment came while I was serving as a board member for Literacy Lubbock, one of those 23 wonderful agencies that work in the trenches to reach those people. The occasion was a Christmas luncheon for an assortment of clients who were in various stages of learning to read and write for the first time in their lives. I vividly remember the teary and thankful testimonial of a 70-year-old grandmother who could now read to her five grandkids.
They used to have to read to her, but no more. Imagine the sheer joy of that!
That is a stellar example of how United Way empowers people, how United Way changes lives for the better, how United Way makes Lubbock a special community and a better community. Without United Way, our United Way, Lubbock’s quality of life would dip more than a few notches.
So, I tip my hat to Lubbock Area United Way for helping me figure out that giving back, sharing my blessings and compassion, ranks up there with the best feelings in the world.
There is an anonymous quote that goes like this: “Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.”
United Way makes sure the polls never close.