In many ways, McHenry County residents are among the most fortunate in the world.
We live in a prosperous community near a fabulous metropolis in the greatest country on the planet.
We have good schools, plenty of good jobs and friendly people who give back to their community in a variety of ways.
But like everywhere else in Illinois and the rest of the country, we have families, friends and neighbors in need. Folks with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses. Individuals who are victims of domestic violence and suffer from substance abuse. Senior citizens and military veterans in need of specialized services. Those who are without a home.
That’s where the United Way of Greater McHenry County and its partner human services agencies come in.
For 51 years, the local United Way has been raising money from generous community residents and businesses to help those in the community who need it the most.
On Wednesday night at Rush Creek Distilling in Harvard, UWGMC kicked off its 2018-2019 campaign by announcing an aggressive goal – it hopes to increase the money it raises this year by 10 percent over last year.
“Every day when I wake up, I immediately think about the person at the end of my street who I’m serving today,” United Way Executive Director Carole Peters told attendees.
It could be a senior citizen. It could be an infant or a middle-schooler or a veteran.
“That’s who is in my mind and in my heart,” she said.
The United Way helps fund 48 programs from 30 local human service agencies. Each of the programs focuses in some way on mental and physical health, education or financial stability.
These programs help more than 91,000 residents – or about one of every four people in McHenry County.
But there are plenty more people out there who need our help.
The good news is that fundraising is heading in the right direction.
After years of declining campaigns following the Great Recession, the most recently completed campaign saw a 13 percent increase in donations from the previous year.
This past year, $1.45 million was raised. That’s compared with the
$1.28 million raised in 2016-2017.
The goal for the upcoming campaign is to raise $1.6 million. The more money raised here, the more local people who need vital community services can be helped.
The McHenry County United Way, of which I am a volunteer board member, hopes to reach that goal by adding potentially hundreds of new donors and business partners as well as increasing the amount of dollars that participants already donate, even if by only a few dollars a week.
“If each working individual throughout McHenry County would give a dollar per week … the results would be off the charts,” Steve Finzel, United Way Board vice chairman and this year’s campaign chairman, said.
Give where you live. That’s United Way’s campaign theme this year.
Give where you live so you can help a neighbor in need.
Among the United Way’s partner agencies are Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County, Child Advocacy Center, Family Alliance, Family Health Partnership Clinic, Northwest Center Against Sexual Assault, Pioneer Center for Human Services, Senior Services Associates and TLS Veterans.
Most of us are fortunate to live here in McHenry County. But there are good people who need our help. If you can afford to give back, even just a dollar – or a few dollars – a week, please consider doing so.
To learn how you can give or to start a campaign at your business, visit UWMcHenry.org.
• Dan McCaleb of Crystal Lake serves on the United Way Board of Directors and is chairman of the Pioneer Center for Human Services Board.