The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 12, 2012

Brian Berkstresser, guest columnist: 'Give an hour,' to invest in your community

By Brian Berkstresser
Special to The Globe

JOPLIN, Mo. — This year, once again, we’re asking our supporters to join us by investing in our community. Together we all share a commitment — a commitment to improve the quality of life in our community, so it’s the best place possible to live, work and raise our families.

At United Way, we consider it a privilege to live in a region where the community is stronger when we work together — a place where neighbors help neighbors. When each of us helps someone in need, the community thrives. It will take all of us working together to make it happen, because what affects one of us truly affects us all.

So, how can someone help? I call it the “give an hour” philosophy. We are asking you to invest just one hour per month in your community. For some it may be volunteer work, for others it may be a monetary donation. However you can help, give an hour. It is a commitment of less than 1 percent of your time or money. Imagine if everyone in Jasper, Newton, Crawford and Cherokee counties gave an hour’s time or pay — that’s hundreds of thousands of hours and dollars invested in our community. Our region would have the resources and funding needed to provide quality child care, thus giving providers the opportunity to hire staff and invest in improvements for our education system.

We can increase access to health care for all, and be able to invest in safety net services for times of critical need. It’s bold of me to ask, I know, but times like these call for the boldest of actions.

Together, with the collective strength of our donors, volunteers, businesses and agency partners, we are getting to the heart of the underlying causes of our problems and creating a better tomorrow for our children. United Way is addressing today’s immediate and basic needs, while focusing on building long-term solutions. Donations to United Way create opportunities for a better life for us all.

We all know human needs in our community have risen. With the current unemployment rate and major cuts in human services funding, many in our community are hurting and in need of a hand. More of our friends and neighbors are in need than ever before. Also, consider that the fastest-growing group in need of our help consists of people who are seeking assistance for the first time.

This year we are committed to helping more people and raising more funds than ever before as a response to the increased demand. Our goal? To get as much time and donations as possible from those in our community who have the capacity to give back.

United Way works hard to stretch your donated time and dollars as far as they can go. Together we can help more people than ever and maximize the response to our community’s needs, while reducing the needs of tomorrow. How? By addressing the root causes of key issues and problems, especially in the areas of education, income and health.

Why give? If you give more, we can do more. Together we can make a positive change in our community, now and in the future. Together we truly are a powerful partnership for change. That’s what it means to live united. To join us, visit, or call 417-624-0153.

Brian Berkstresser is president of the Board of Directors of the United Way of Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas.