Aauuggghhhh! I felt like Charlie Brown when Lucy pulls the football away for the hundredth time. “We are NOT a chapter!” I said as I listened to a newscast about the United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area. It is a common misperception.
Please refer to our February 26 post of “What Does the United Way DO?” We are a local, homegrown, fiercely independent organization that belongs to a very well known trade association known as the United Way of America. Because we are a member of that trade association, we have to meet certain standards of excellence and strict accounting guidelines, and get to use the brand name (United Way) and logo and have access to research and resources that we could not produce on a local level.
We were formed in 1943 by the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce as the Charlottesville and Albemarle War and Community Fund, and have evolved and changed as community needs have changed. There are 12 staff members in our office, and each of us is a department unto ourselves and has a specific function. Our staff can bring their babies to work. Our board consists of local residents. Our mission is to serve those with the greatest need and at the greatest risk in our community. ALL our decisions are made by our staff and our board.
Why does this all matter? Because if some United Way in some other part of the country does something controversial, we want the public to know that it has nothing to do with us here. Because we want our donors to know that their gifts stay right here in this community and are not first filtered through a national organization. Because we are proud of our unique, homegrown programs like Child Care Scholarships and the Information and Referral Center.
Like Charlie Brown, I’ll keep trying to kick that football. We are the United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area, a group of local people working hard to make our community a better place for all of us.
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