Message to the Community
Working together, we are building a better community
In the spring of 2010, Rhode Island was in the grip of the most disastrous flood anyone alive can remember. As the waters rose next to our headquarters on the Woonasquatucket River, the United Way 2-1-1 information and referral line was ringing non-stop; 5,000 calls in 48 hours and 33,000 calls in 30 days.
Additionally, we handled more than 24,000 calls from people needing help as a result of Tropical Storm Irene this past summer. When calls came in from people who lost power, had trees down in their yard, or needed special medical attention - United Way of Rhode Island was there to help.
While these calls have receded, activity at 2-1-1 is now being fed by a different kind of crisis - an ongoing crisis caused by an economic situation which most of us have never experienced. The new population of callers to 2-1-1 are those who have considered themselves middle class. They have worked hard, played by the rules and never expected to be in this spot. They are educated and many have been let go from professional positions that will never exist again. Some are older; but not old enough to retire.
At United Way, we are approaching this situation with a sense of stubborn perseverance. We have had success over the last few years, and we are determined to do even more. Our overarching belief is that if we help people to do better for themselves and their families, all of our community will benefit.
Last year, $14 million was donated to United Way of Rhode Island, which, in turn, has been invested in building a better community. We are grateful to our donors for their generous support of our mission. It's our goal to add almost another $2 million to this annual total over time. To do this, we will need to grow our fundraising efforts in expanded ways; building even stronger relationships with each donor by reaching out to corporations and their employees, individual donors, women leaders, and young professionals.
With federal, state and local budget cuts on the horizon, we may not have seen the worst of the economic troubles creating need in our community. But if we can accomplish what we did when the storms came: work together, donate what we can and use all of our creativity and energy, we will build a better community. This is the essence of the LIVE UNITED message of United Way: to give, advocate and volunteer.
I invite you to join us.
President & CEO
United Way of Rhode Island