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United Way Commentary: Anyone can make a difference

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Almost 40 percent of families with children in Tarrant County are struggling to meet basic needs of food, hygiene, electricity and clothing, according to the United Way of Tarrant County’s recent Community Assessment. Seventeen percent of those families are living at or below the poverty level. And, individuals who make minimum wage need to work 115 hours weekly to afford rent and living expenses.

These statistics are just an example of the many reasons United Way of Tarrant County’s annual workplace campaigns are important. More than 65 percent of our overall investment in the community comes from partner companies and their employees, who each year pledge a percentage of their salary or contribute a one-time gift. Their support is crucial as United Way of Tarrant County works to solve the most challenging social issues in our community.

We see these employees as more than just workers contributing. They are philanthropists. They care about the welfare of others and donate to causes in which they believe. Anyone can be a philanthropist — it’s not just a title for the wealthy. It’s public philanthropy. It’s recognizing that the social fabric of Tarrant County is made strong by every man and every woman contributing what they can to make their community a better place.

With public philanthropy serving as one of the pillars of our strategic plan, which we launched in 2018, United Way of Tarrant County is moving in a new direction. Along with systems change, a new funding model that allocates resources to not just manage social issues but to solve them, and donor-centricity, listening to and empowering our donors to support initiatives for which they have great passion, United Way of Tarrant County is working to ensure its fundraising efforts and allocations reflect the community’s wishes.

In fact, our community assessment provided us with a clear directive of where funding is truly needed and how our community expects us to allocate resources. According to the community assessment, data shows the community believes the top five most pressing social issues are housing and homelessness; health, mental health and wellness; transportation; education, early childhood and youth; and basic needs, emergency assistance and financial stability.

United Way of Tarrant County will focus its efforts on these top five issues. It will take every man and every woman contributing what they can to help solve them.

With your support, and that of foundations, labor unions and corporate partnerships, United Way annually invests millions of dollars in Tarrant County. This investment supports organizations, causes, partnerships, emergency situations and everyday residents. Each year United Way and its partners help about 300,000 people. That means that about one out of seven people in Tarrant County may directly benefit from the efforts of United Way and its network of nonprofits and health and human services partners.

As chairman and co-chairman of the 2019-2020 United Way Campaign, we ask that you join us, whether it’s through your workplace or on your own, and donate what you can in support of this community resource. If you’ve not had a workplace campaign and would like to do so, contact us and we’ll help make it happen. We are committed to this community, and we know you are, too. Let’s all choose to LIVE UNITED.

Hadley Woerner is president of the Tarrant Region for Frost Bank and is the 2019-2020 United Way of Tarrant County Campaign Co-chair.

Patricia Linares, Ph.D. is the former Interim Superintendent for the Fort Worth and Crowley ISDs, and an education consultant. She is the 2019-2020 United Way of Tarrant County Co-chair.

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