Our United Way Campaign is in full swing and we are so grateful for all of our amazing volunteers who have been willing to step into leadership roles throughout this United Way campaign season.
We asked our Campaign Cabinet Committee Chair and our Campaign Cabinet Committee Regional Chairs why they decided to step into leadership roles on this year’s Campaign Cabinet Committee and why the issue of children living in poverty in NWA is important to them.
I joined the United Way of Benton County Board over 15 years ago and have served continuously since that time on the Benton County Board, the Washington County Board or the United Way of NWA Board (as both full Board member and Honorary Board member). This year I was asked to return to full Board status and accepted the opportunity to serve as the Campaign Chair.
The United Way of NWA Board has been diligently working for several years to move the organization to an issue focus and I am excited by the ultimate (and very challenging) decision to focus on Children Living in Poverty and the bold goal of providing all children in NWA a pathway out of poverty. We as a community can come together and make a major impact in providing options to kids in our community. I am enthused by the focus and feel challenged to help bring all NWA community members into the effort to provide kids a pathway to a better future.
I was asked to fill a need and it seemed like a perfect fit with what I believe and is so needed in the Northwest Arkansas community. We need to focus on helping the children of Northwest Arkansas]and United Way is the organization with the depth to take on this important challenge. The fact that we have anyone, much less children in our community living in poverty is just not acceptable. Children don’t get a vote early on in their lives. They are the most in need of help. We simply must do our level best to eliminate this from our community. These children are our future and we owe it to them to give them the best chance to succeed. Again United Way is unique position to delivered upon the vision of eliminating child poverty in Northwest Arkansas.
As I became more involved and visited more United Way partners, I began to see how United Way and their partners fill an enormous need with a relatively small amount of funds and volunteers. I began to realize that I had been insulated and even blind to the magnitude of the need. I was so insulated from it in my daily life.
When United Way turned up the focus on Children Living in Poverty this year, I began to think about where I came from and where I am today. I realized that I was once one of those people that needed a little help from some of the organizations that United Way supports. As a teenager, I was homeless for a time while working to graduate High School. There were times I lived out of my car. I have stayed in homeless shelters when it was too cold to sleep in my car. I have been hungry and not known when I would eat next. I have eaten out of a dumpster. But along the way, there were several touch points where a little kindness helped me break out of that no income, low income pattern. I was the first in my family to graduate High School. I was the first in my family to graduate college. Because of that education, I’ve had great jobs and far greater income than the background I came from. I know from personal experience that you can drastically change a life with just a little encouragement and a few dollars. And the odds are that when that life has changed, the next generation of children’s lives will be far better as well.
Today, in Northwest Arkansas, there are well over a 1,000 homeless children. Those are the kids that are far more likely to not finish school, far more likely to have behavioral problems. Far more likely to end up incarcerated, and far more likely continue poverty into adulthood. I have seen that it doesn’t have to end up that way. A little help can turn that pattern around. United Way is doing the most to provide that pathway out for these children. Helping United Way with even a little investment in time or money is the most effective way to ensure lives are changed for generations to come. That is why I’m encouraging everyone to help change the life of one or more of these children that are right here in our community.
ROGER HOLROYD – West Campaign Chair, Arvest
Siloam Springs has a large number of children living in poverty and I see this as a way to help them and our community deal with this issue. As a father the idea of children going to bed hungry is particularly troubling to me, however, that is just one aspect of living in poverty. I applaud the UW for setting this ambitious goal knowing that the implications for children of NWA and the community as a whole are enormous.
Click here for more information on how YOU can get involved with United Way of Northwest Arkansas!