Why I Volunteer

jdieker's picture
Guest Blogger Tina Lewis, SAUW United Priority Cabinet Chair
 
The past year has gone so fast. As I look back I realize how much change has happened in my life and around me over the past year. Sometimes change is hard but change is good.  In fact Heraclitus said ""There is nothing permanent except change."


My daughter not only graduated high school this year but also moved away and started college. My son has started his senior year in college and my grandson turned one. I have noticed a few extra grey hairs on not only my head but my husband's too.  Every school in Salina is under construction and downtown Salina is looking at a lot of changes too.


I have been volunteering with the Salina Area United Way (SAUW) for over six years and as I look back a lot has changed with it too. A couple years ago Amanda Michaelis accepted the position as the Executive Director and in the last year we have hired on Tanya and Josh. It is always nice to have a fresh set of eyes and a lifetime of different experiences to bring new ideas to the organization. Now the physical location will be moving over to Walnut Street shortly and everyone is excited about the opportunities this change will afford.


Not only has the physical makeup of the organization changed a great deal but the way we operate has shifted significantly.  When I started volunteering, SAUW funded 16 certified partners on a yearly basis. These organizations are wonderful organizations that are important to Salina and the community. However, as the priorities of United Way Worldwide shifted to Income, Education and Health the SAUW began to focus on the community needs in Salina in these areas. This year we were honored that over 60 volunteers from the community decided which applicants to fund based on the priorities that Salina had identified. Although only seven applicants were funded, there are over 70 organizations represented by those funded collaborations. And if two heads are better than one, then what kind of impact does 70+ organizations working together to solve identified community issues have versus 70+ organizations working independently to address an issue.


I am so excited to see organization with unique skills, talents and resources working together to solve community issues like improving the graduation rate, raising healthy children and creating financially stable families. Progress toward these goals is impossible without change. We have to start thinking differently and I'm proud of how our community has come together to work together to tackle hard issues.  


As this next year approaches I am eager to see the changes that will happen here in Salina. Hopefully when we look back next year we can say that not only the brick and mortar have improved but the lives of our citizens as well.  It is our goal at SAUW to not only be a funding partner to organizations but to truly be a partner with the many diverse organizations that are working to meet the needs of Salina.  
Please take the opportunity to get involved with the exciting work being done in our community by volunteering.