Nancy Vaughan column: Kickoff changes format but not focus

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Nancy Vaughan | For The Herald Bulletin | August 25, 2019
One of my earliest experiences with United Way of Madison County was a kickoff luncheon held at the Anderson YMCA gymnasium. It was packed. It was inspirational. Business executives, labor representatives, agency staff and volunteers, and those who received services came together to celebrate people helping people.
Fast forward 30 years. Few business events gather more than 100 people. Kickoff events have taken many forms — picnics in a park, a program of Anderson Rotary, a human truck pull. United Way volunteers and staff have struggled with the question of how to bring people together and what we ultimately hope to achieve when we do. There is still a robust group of volunteers who help connect one-on-one during the fall campaign; they gather in late summer to learn about the work, create their teams and make plans to connect with their assigned businesses and individuals.
Yet we were in need of a way to put the community — the entire county and Middletown — on notice that we are concentrating the next few months on building resources to help all of our residents thrive. Where can we find virtually everyone? In the virtual world.
Welcome to Campaign 2019 kickoff:
This virtual campaign kickoff site is currently counting down to noon on Sept. 17, 2019 when we will track donations live for 24 hours along with videos, prizes and challenges. During the countdown, the site features ways to get involved: placing a banner at a business, sponsorships, creating your own video, downloading photo frames to share on social media. Donations made beginning September 1 until the countdown will show in the total when the kickoff goes live at noon on the 17th. The Herald Bulletin is also supporting us at during the live event.
The format — #givewhereyoulive — is our attempt to recreate the feel of that YMCA gymnasium of the 80s in today’s online environment. However, as with an in-person event and with United Way overall, it only works if people show up and participate.
The focus — helping every person in our community not just survive, but thrive — is the same as it has always been. The programs section of the site gives an overview of the ways we use our resources to achieve that goal:
· Born Learning Connection that supports a multitude of ways to help young children learn and enter school ready to succeed.
· Covering Kids & Families that works to provide everyone access to healthcare.
· Safety net and crisis supports including 211, the 24-hour information line, and financial assistance for basic needs.
· Thrive Network that works intensively with people who are working to achieve financial stability through increased earnings, financial education, job training and more.
· Volunteer opportunities to be more directly involved with the work.
This information is always available at but we hope the structure and focus of Madison Gives United 9-17-2019 makes it easier — and more fun — to be part of making Madison County a place where everyone thrives. Will you join us?