Last week, approximately 125 members of the community gathered to officially kick-off the 2012 United Way Campaign. The program was led by this year’s Campaign Drive Chairs Al and Amy Nystrom and was peppered with emotion, motivation, and inspiration.
The Campaign Drive Chairs shared their passion for leading this year’s campaign and how they want to make it very personal. Al and Amy want people to understand that giving through United Way is about reaching out and lifting up your fellow community members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Amy added the importance of giving while you can because tomorrow you may be the one in need of lifting up. As they are fully aware, life can change in an instant. A few years ago the Red Cross and the entire community was there for them when they lost their home to a fire.
The program featured two guest speakers whom have been impacted by United Way programs. Just over one year ago, the first guest speaker’s life was changed when a tornado hit her home. Her mother-in-laws trailer, next to her home, was destroyed. Her mother-in-law was lucky to leave with her life that day and was all she was left with. She lost everything. The American Red Cross and United Way played an integral part in helping her start from nothing and rebuild her life.
The second guest speaker is a survivor; a survivor in every sense of the word. She’s a survivor of sexual abuse from a family member as a child, and a survivor of physical, verbal, and sexual abuse as a young adult. Her story is too horrific to describe, and too unimaginable to comprehend. A lifetime of tragedy summarized in fifteen minutes that left a room so quiet one could hear a pin drop. Fortunately, she is here and able to help others through her own experience.
I think I cried at least three times that day. I cried for her. I cried with her, and I cried while sharing her story. Her story left me, heart-broken for her as a child, angry for her as a teenager, and terrified for her as a mother. But mostly, she left me with her strength as a survivor. She’s living proof that United Way is about the people who are impacted by other people’s generosity, daily.
The annual United Way Campaign is your time to invest in your community and that time is now. I encourage you to educate yourself, get involved, and join us in making long-lasting change in our community. Give today. For more information and to find out how you can create change, please visit marshfieldareaunitedway.org or call 715-384-9992.