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John McMillan: Helping our community is no ample trick

John McMillan • Dec 17, 2015 at 6:19 PM

I love magic. Over the years I’ve tried to put a magic trick or two into my presentations. Working for United Way of Wilson County, I can usually sense the fear that I’m going to ask my audience for money, so a magic trick can break the ice and set everyone to ease.

In a former life, I worked alongside a lady who happened to be the company employee trainer. She started out performing a couple of magic tricks as ice breakers. Before you know it she was taking magic classes and the ice breakers became more elaborate; her training presentations became in great demand all over the country in short order. 

Everyone enjoys an illusion. While an illusion can catch someone’s attention, I want there to be no illusions about what we do at UWWC.

It’s almost allocations time for our local United Way. That means that 40 local volunteers come together from around our county to examine, more closely, the workings of applying agencies who are seeking financial support from us.

Notice I said financial support. I’ve talked about a lot of partner programs through this column, but I want to make sure that our public knows that these agencies are partners. Our local United Way helps with several initiatives like 211 for volunteer alignment and help, two wonder trails to foster early learning, promoting pre-kindergarten education and the benefits of family resource centers, prescription discount cards, Text 4-babies and others programs. However, we help in giving limited financial support to 32 local agencies that help Wilson County residents.

These agencies have been visited by our allocations volunteers, their financial records have been inspected to make sure that donors can feel safe that their donations are being spent wisely and to great benefit for the community.

We don’t fully fund any of our partner programs. Our hope is that we can provide donors a means to make an educated choice about where to give and be sure that they are getting the most bang for their buck. In return, the partner agencies can devote more of their time to doing what they do best and that is serving the people of this community.

There are a lot of needs in our county, just like in communities all across our nation. A shrinking middle-class, ever increasing societal pressures and higher unemployment makes for more needs than one nonprofit can meet. United Way has always believed that team strategies are best to tackle tough problems. Working together with many agencies and professionally administered programs help move make our communities a better place to live.

I consider the directors who run our partner agencies my friends and I have seen, first hand, their struggles to raise funds through various means. I feel good that every dollar brought in to UWWC takes a little burden off their plate and allows them to work on the needs of this community. Making a pledge to any of these agencies through your donation to UWWC is magic we can all create.

For more information, visit givetouwwc.org.

John McMillin is president of United Way of Wilson County. Email him at jmunitedway@bellsouth.net.

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