Published in the Jan. 6, 2020 issue of Hunterdon Review/New Jersey Hills
United Way of Hunterdon County just wrapped up another whirlwind Holiday Hands season and once again I am humbled by the generosity of our community. Donors were quick to share their holiday spirit by providing gifts to those who found themselves less fortunate; and when we had more applications than expected, they gave more. Our volunteer elves worked tirelessly to ensure that requests were filled, gifts organized and then handed out with a smile.
People are often surprised when I mention that United Way’s Holiday Hands program provides holiday cheer for more than 2,700 of our Hunterdon neighbors. They often ask “Who are these people struggling to get by?”
My answer: “They” are the single dad of three sons who is already trying to figure out how he can afford pre-K for his youngest next year, and is eternally grateful for the little bit of relief provided by Holiday Hands. He also will be coming back to get his taxes done for free and receive the valuable tax credits he has earned through our VITA program. “They” are the man whose wish list included a pair of jeans and a hernia belt. “They” are the single mom who hoped beyond hope that she might get a bed for her daughter (she did).
“They” are ALICE, our neighbors who are Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed. ALICE represents 1 in 4 Hunterdon Households, and “they” might very well be “us” - you or me one day. There are hundreds of ALICE stories, each of them important because everyone deserves the opportunity to thrive. This is why I’m proud to lead an organization that focuses on helping people in their moment of need during the holiday season, and hopefully bringing a little extra joy into their day.
But more importantly I’m proud to lead an organization that provides income support and wellness programs to help clients create longer term stability in their lives. United Way’s efforts don’t end there. We also advocate for systemic changes that will increase food security, reduce homelessness and provide better access to health care. This work isn’t easy but it is necessary. And it couldn’t be done without the support of our volunteers, donors and community partners. They are the reason I am entering 2020 with hope, not only that the coming year will bring forth positive changes in our community, but that in the next decade we will see real solutions to our most pressing societal challenges. Together we can truly make a difference.
For your New Year’s resolution, consider making 2020 a year of action. Get involved, donate your time and talent to a charity that needs your support. If not you, who? If not now, when?
President – United Way of Hunterdon County Board of Trustees