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McCaleb: Support for McHenry County United Way is support for your neighbor

Everyone knows a Jimmy.

That was the powerful message delivered Wednesday night at the 2019-20 Campaign Kickoff for the United Way of Greater McHenry County.

In this case, Jimmy is the late son of Julie Maggiore, a United Way board member and employee of Corporate Disk in McHenry.

Fourteen years ago, Jimmy Maggiore got in a bike accident. He suffered a broken arm and leg, as well as other injuries. He required multiple surgeries.

To help him get through the pain, doctors prescribed what was at the time a relatively new and unknown type of narcotic – opioids.

Julie didn’t know then that opioids were highly addictive. Jimmy certainly didn’t. Almost no one did.

As has happened with hundreds of thousands of others in the past decade, Jimmy got addicted. That addiction eventually led him to crystal meth and heroin.

Julie didn’t know where to turn. She was referred to the local United Way, which immediately got her in touch with some of its partner agencies.

Within a day, Jimmy was in rehabilitation.

“Those drugs, they just get ahold of your body and you can’t get away from them,” Julie Maggiore told the captive audience at Hickory Hall in Crystal Lake. “I needed some direction and United Way was there for me.”

Jimmy Maggiore recently succumbed to his addiction. But his Mom credits that initial connection with the United Way and its partners for giving her years of more time with her son.

Now, she wants to give back. And she wants the community to give back, too.

Because of the generosity of McHenry County’s residents and businesses, the United Way is funding 48 vital programs provided by 29 local nonprofit human service agencies over the course of the next year – to the tune of $1.1 million.

Every dollar stays in the county.

Last year, more than 90,000 McHenry County residents benefited from the programs provided by United Way partners. These programs helped support homeless men, women and children; those with mental health concerns, addictions and physical disabilities; the hungry; veterans; senior citizens; those without health insurance and so many more.

Local agencies funded by United Way include Child Advocacy Center, Home of the Sparrow, Pioneer Center for Human Services, Rosecrance, the Salvation Army and Turning Point.

That $1.1 million in funding grants is $240,000 more than only two years ago.

McHenry County is rallying, but we can do more. Each year, hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding requests from these local nonprofits go unfulfilled because not enough money is raised.

Your $1, $5, $10 or $20 contribution a week can go a long way toward helping a neighbor who desperately needs it.

Local businesses that aren’t actively running United Way campaigns, please consider doing so. It can be fun, and so rewarding. To learn how you can give or to start a campaign at your business, visit UWMcHenry.org.

“I can’t bring Jimmy back, but I can tell you that United Way was there for me,” Julie Maggiore concluded. “You guys have got to know a Jimmy out there. He may be in your family. He may be down the street from you. … Every dollar we raise helps.”

• Dan McCaleb of Crystal Lake serves on the United Way Board of Directors and is chairman of the Pioneer Center for Human Services Board.

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