About a month ago, our staff experienced something unique. In our office we don’t normally get to meet with the people in the community that we or our partners help. That wasn’t the case on this particular Friday afternoon. A few of us had gone out for lunch and when we returned a mom and three young girls who needed help were at our office. A few of our staff have shared how this encounter impacted them and really boosted their drive for what we are doing.
“I’m new to the world of nonprofits. Before joining the United Way team, I worked for Ozark Natural Foods, a cooperative grocery store in Fayetteville. While working there, it was normal for me to see customers and people we served on a daily basis. Now, I work for a nonprofit that does almost no direct-client work, meaning that I hardly ever see the people we serve. Don’t get me wrong, I know we make an impact (you can see it in numbers like these), I just don’t always get to see that impact in real life. That’s why Friday was so moving for me. When I walked in and saw those three young girls sitting in our conference room, I had no idea what I was walking into. It wasn’t until after I left that day that it started to click – these were children living in poverty. These children were our mission, our bold goal, what we were working for. It put a face to it for me, and while I didn’t need a face to feel bought in to our mission of providing a pathway out of poverty for children, it definitely added a whole new level of excitement and passion that I don’t think I’ll ever lose.”
“As the afternoon went on, one thing became very clear to me; even though these girls lived in poverty, they wanted the same things as every other child. They wanted to show off the pages they had colored, they wanted attention, they wanted to tell stories, they wanted to play, and they even wanted ice cream on the way home. Why do children living in poverty, like these three little girls, have to miss out on experiences while their parents deal with life’s hard issues? A child in poverty has the same needs, wants, and desires as a child not living in poverty. So how do we bridge that gap and make an even playing field for all children?”
“Meeting Danielle and her three daughters really brought home for me how important the work is that we’re doing to provide a pathway out of poverty for our area’s children. We’ve been deeply engaged as an organization with the research and strategy needed to make our efforts a success – with the work of the head – but Danielle’s visit spoke to the more emotional, heart-driven side of this work. To move forward effectively, we must remember to balance both.”
“When we came back from lunch and saw that there were three young girls in our conference room, we were all confused about what was going on. A little later, when I found out that their mother had come to our office to get help, it really put in to perspective how the organization I work for can make such a difference in people’s lives. We don’t normally get to see the people we impact directly. Sure, we volunteer and we know we make an impact because of the numbers but, mostly, we are in the office trying to raise awareness to others, etc. Meeting these girls and their mom in our office really was a privilege. Our staff was able to find this family the help they needed and it made me feel so good that, though the girls didn’t realize it, we had just helped to impact their lives in such a positive way. I felt like I had a good grasp on poverty and what it looked like because I lived in a form it, but it was eye opening to see the children we will be affecting through our new mission.”
“When I worked for 211 we would get calls from families who had reached the end of their resources, both financially and emotionally. This woman may have felt like she was alone but the fact is that there are many others in our area who are in very similar situations or feeling the same emotions and it’s so important that we all work together to help our neighbors in this community, whether it’s United Way and our partner agencies or us as a community. They can’t do it alone and they shouldn’t have to.”