Jenny Royer is a recent graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill. She is working as a campaign associate for United Way of the Greater Triangle. She wrote this about her experience in her new job.
As a recent college graduate, any social gathering usually yields the same question, “So, what are you doing now??” I used to dread that inevitable question when my only answer was, “Watching The Bachelorette reruns online and applying to any job opening I can get my hands on.” But now I happily reply, “I am working for United Way.” I stand hopeful they will ask a follow-up question, eagerly waiting to practice my United Way elevator speech.
However, one person’s reply to my current place of employment caught me a bit off guard. She countered, “United Way…that’s insurance right?” I laughed a bit before I could even get an answer out of me. Surely she didn’t really think that, right? Where would she have even generated that idea?
But as I thought about her statement, I began to think…“well, maybe she’s not that far off.” While United Way could never technically be categorized as an insurance company, it certainly shares some similarities with that industry.
in·sur·ance: financial protection against loss or harm: an arrangement by which a company gives customers financial protection against loss or harm such as theft or illness in return for payment premium
United Way of the Greater Triangle funds 147 programs from 77 local partner agencies, to create a safety net for our community. It’s a unique collaboration that is only possible when a caring community puts its resources together for the protection and well-being of its neighbors. While many think of poverty as the lack of money, in reality it is the lack of resources, such as education, technology, health, safety, relational support and other tools needed to become financial stable. The programs you support through your United Way donations provide valuable resources that allow an individual in need to stretch the financial resources she or he has.
The face of poverty is changing. It is no longer the homeless man begging on the street corner. The face of poverty is the face of people just like you and me—the people we work and go to church with, the classmates of our children, the people who thought they had it all. The recession in 2008 resulted in a 25% increase in poverty and we are now at the highest level of poverty in the US since 1964.
While it may seem that the time, talent, and financial resources you give to United Way will never affect you personally, you can rest assured that your contribution directly affects the health of our community as a whole, if not someone you know personally. That’s why we believe this is the best investment you can make.
As many insurance companies suggest with their advertising, life does come at you fast and you never know what circumstances could change your life forever. That’s why it is important that we protect our community by investing in programs that have proven to be strong, productive and effective in changing and improving lives in the Triangle. You can rest easy, Triangle, knowing your donations are in good hands. We are your good neighbor, but we can’t do it alone. We work with hundreds of community volunteers who are dedicated to seeing the lives of our neighbors in need, not only improve, but flourish. That way you know we are able to provide results you can trust and count on.
So maybe I should go back and thank that girl who had mistaken United Way as an insurance company, because I think she has opened my eyes to something very significant about the services United Way provides. With life being as delicate as it is, we are in great need of a safety net formed by the caring community we find ourselves in. Why wouldn’t we invest in a resource that can protect and support the people we love when life doesn’t happen the way we think it should? Perhaps it is scary for some to consider giving up some of their paycheck or time each month. However, if you ask me, the alternative, there being no safety net at all, is far more frightening.
 Definition from Bing Dictionary