Wednesday, November 7, 2012

United Way's Younger Focus

by Timm Dowling, Loaned Executive

At United Way, we understand that investing in our youth is investing in our future. Introducing a culture of service to younger generations facilitates the growth of community fellowship.
United Way administers two programs that are specifically focused on younger community members.

Youth United offers high school students a chance to build valuable experience working with the community through leadership and volunteer hours. One of the most popular programs offered by Youth United is the Varsity Letter in Community Service. Students who complete 145 hours of community service during the year earn a varsity letter for their high school just like those given to athletes. This program has seen tremendous success as more and more colleges require some volunteerism in their applicants. Even if kids are volunteering because they are told to, they receive a rewarding experience, which can translate into life habits and passions. 
Erica McDaniel, a 2012 loaned executive, is an excellent example of Youth United’s Varsity Letter in Community Service program. Fresh off high school graduation last June, Erica has community service experience which not only helps the public but also gives her valuable experience to attract colleges and employers.
Project: U is another United Way program that focuses on young professionals in their 20s and 30s.  The annual Get Involved Gala event raises money for the Community Solutions Fund and is an example of the social events put on by the Project: U team. This year’s event is being held at the Tacoma Art Museum, Saturday, November 10th from 8 pm to 11 pm. It’s all about breeding community and creating opportunity for the sharing of ideas and networking of motivated individuals.

Involving the youth is an important emphasis in creating an upward trend in community involvement. United Way’s focus on young people is really a reflection of the dedication to long-term, sustainable changes for the future. United Way doesn’t just put band aids on problems, we find the source of issues and create solutions that fundamentally alter systems for the better.