Give. Advocate. Volunteer.
United Way of Northwest Georgia employees and volunteers alike keep these three words at the top of mind whenever conversation around our mission arises around town. We must always be ready to share our “elevator speech” (or for our community, hallway speech may be more appropriate). We continually remind ourselves and anyone that will listen how important it is to be a cheerleader for this very special community. We all contribute in our own way. Some of us are good at fundraising and financial matters while others spend countless hours on the front lines doing volunteer projects that would not be possible without certain expertise that I myself simply do not have.
At this year’s annual meeting, I opened up by saying that someone much brighter than myself once told me that true giving is giving without holding back. I happened to receive that certain piece of advice from my grandfather, Bob Shaw (I call him Papa). He and countless leaders before him have set the standard for future generations on what being a true community advocate looks like. This community is number one for many reasons and I believe that our entrepreneurial spirit is at the center of our success. We are not worried about the now and we do not dwell on the past. We have that innate ability to look ahead and care about people we have never met before. We are truly blessed to have a major industry headquartered in our community with leaders at the helm who are “all in.”
It amazes me to see all of the different entities — large corporations and small businesses, school systems, banks — come together in order to give back to this community which has given us so much. This has been especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic as our community has rallied together to donate to United Way’s Response and Recovery Fund which will aid those affected in both the short- and long-term. People and businesses have also come together to donate masks, toiletries and many more supplies to help essential businesses (like our community partners), law enforcement and healthcare workers.
More than ever we are seeing the younger generation become involved in giving as well as volunteering. It is my goal as the 2020 board chair to continue to grow the next generation of community leaders and philanthropists through involvement in the Young Leaders Society and Junior Alexis de Tocqueville Society. These affinity groups have the ability to connect our young leaders across industries and occupations.
When Molly and I recently welcomed our son, Shaw, into the world, this all came full circle for me. What an incredible blessing it is to be able to raise our families in such a caring community. As we get ready to celebrate Father’s Day, I want to wish all the dads out there a happy Father’s Day! It is by far the most rewarding job in the world and none of it would be possible without the strong women who make our job look easy. You are shaping the future generation of community leaders, philanthropists and difference-makers every day!
Also, a huge thank you to every person in this community for supporting United Way. Your donations, volunteering and advocating make a huge difference, and I hope that you will join me in continuing to build better futures for every person in our community!
Joe Young is the 2020 United Way of Northwest Georgia board chairman.