I’ve heard that you don’t want to see two things being made, sausage and legislation. Well, I grew up on a farm, and I liked making sausage. Maybe that’s why I like seeing how legislation is made.
As a child on the farm, my dad would set up tables in a cold area along with a meat grinder and assorted accouterments; my mom would sew sausage bags and, as a family, we’d mix the sausage with my mom and dad doing the occasional cooking of a small batch to make sure it was mixed just right. There was pride in making just the right blend and then giving out a bag to a few favored friends. In actuality, I think legislation can be made the same way.
Why am I talking about this? As one of 38 United Ways across the state of Tennessee, United Way of Wilson County visits with legislators at the state level once a year to discuss new initiatives we may be a part of and to honor those members of our community, such as teachers this year, for their outstanding work in making our communities a better place to live.
As a part of the day, we get to check out the business of politics. I know it gets a bad rap, but it’s really amazing to see legislators, lobbyists, staff and the various groups work together on certain issues. I can’t say it’s always pretty, but it is interesting. As a student of history, I suppose I’m more fascinated with the idea of all the worthy causes and ideals that have come out of our state leaders over Tennessee’s history than the not-so great ones.
Of course, we had business to attend to on this day, and I couldn’t just go roaming the halls. We had a worthy cause of our own to celebrate, which was the launch of the Tennessee Statewide Afterschool Network initiative along with several partners.
No local funds will be used for this effort and, in fact, is made possible by a grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The network will support children, youth, families and communities in nurturing afterschool experiences; it will achieve these results by improving standards and examining how to align what’s taught after school with what’s taught in classrooms.
This is one of the areas about United Way that I really enjoy. States across America have learned that United Ways want to improve our communities and want to help get the word out about such positive programs. Through being a voice, helping to pull associations and people together to help these programs get started and improve our communities and our children, I feel like we’re at our best.
Such work, like legislation and sausage may not come together in the right mix the first time, but the fulfillment in trying is worthy in itself and when it does come together just right, it’s a beautiful thing worthy of sharing with a few friends.
John McMillin is president of the United Way of Wilson County. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.