Little did I know when my family moved to Southwest Minnesota 11 years ago that I would work for over 10 years at United Way of Southwest Minnesota until family members convinced me it was finally time to think about retiring. Prior to our move to this area I had volunteered and worked at another community's United Way for about 20 years, so my first inclination was to hold back from getting involved very deeply at another local United Way. I had "been there done that" and I thought that I was ready to do something else.
After we moved here I can vividly recall many lonely moments when I felt like the newest kid in town, when I didn't know more than a handful of people, when I felt that I would never get connected and my primary thought was "how long do we have to live here?" I found that I missed working with a local United Way organization and all of the people and community organizations that it touched.
My work at United Way of Southwest Minnesota over the past 10 years has connected me with hundreds of dedicated and caring volunteers and that has made all the difference. Their interest in working to make this a better place to live and raise a family has been an inspiration. Volunteer leaders at this organization have been willing to try new approaches to advance the common good. They have had the passion and the expertise to generate resources to get things done. They have made my work worthwhile and have helped me grow to love and appreciate living and working in southwest Minnesota.
I have appreciated getting to see first-hand how donations to United Way of Southwest Minnesota are making a real difference in people's lives.
It is a great pleasure to hear parents tell how their young children love to have their very own Imagination Library book read to them and to know that each month over 2,300 young children are gaining essential school readiness skills because donations to our annual campaign make this possible. I smile when I learn how students gain positive relationship skills because a United Way grant provided funding for the tools and resources to make the program possible. There are many other examples that touch thousands of lives in a variety of ways.
For that and much more I thank you. Thank you for the opportunity to get to know you and to be much more engaged with the communities in this area. I know that there are very bright days ahead for United Way of Southwest Minnesota and I encourage you to stay involved, stay connected and to keep LIVING UNITED!