Local Fund Needs You More Than Ever

It’s June and for most of us, the annual fund drive for the organization formerly known as MUFFY is months away. But not everyone. The United Way of Montgomery County, led by Gina Haile, is already working on this year’s drive.

Why should you care?

Because this may be one of the most important drives in the last half century.

Before going any further though, let’s get one thing straight. The organization has received a fair amount of criticism through the community, including a lot from this corner. If you ask me, it was well deserved. This group had more missteps than you’d find at a seventh-grade sock hop. However, that was all BG – before Gina. Although she would be the first to tell you the organization still has a ways to go, it is light years past the abyss it had fallen into. I believe Haile has righted the ship and has it sailing into better waters.

And that’s a good thing because what feels like a perfect storm is brewing that will make social services more important than ever.

Let’s take gas prices. How much pain are you feeling at the pump? Add on to that the rising cost of a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, a pound of ground beef, rising inflation . . . oh, and let’s not forget the Fed’s decision last week to hand us the largest interest rate increase since 1994. All of those things – and more – will mean dollars from paychecks won’t go as far. It will mean that businesses will suffer, and that will mean hours can get cut, jobs can go unfilled . . . we might even get to the point where layoffs are discussed again.

It’s that perfect storm. The need for social services goes up, and that means those organizations need more money. Yet because our wallets are stretched thin with the higher prices we’re all paying, we cut back.

Perfect. Storm,

Think what that means to struggling families.

Make no mistake about it, the effects of the perfect storm won’t trickle down to the good organizations that do the work of the angels – it’ll come roaring down like the eruption of Mt. St. Helens.

Look, you can’t catch the news anymore without seeing some tragedy. From shootings to missing kids to violence upon violence, things are bad and getting worse. We’ve been very fortunate here in God’s country to avoid a lot of it. Some of that is good luck. But an awful lot is the work from groups like our local police, like the Youth Service Bureau or the Family Crisis Shelter or the Boys & Girls Club. Do things happen? Absolutely. But life would be dramatically worse without their efforts.

To be clear, this isn’t nay-saying from the Chicken Littles of the world. This is from a guy who has volunteered countless hours over the last few decades with multiple non-profits. I can tell you that homeless shelters, facilities that help battered women, organizations that serve youths . . . all get their limited resources stretched to the breaking point – and sometimes beyond – when times get tough.

This is why it will be important when the good folks from the United Way of Montgomery County come calling this year – led by Haile and this year’s drive chair Dr. Kathy Steele – to dig deep and do what you can.

See, that’s the other side of when things are rough. They don’t just get rough for the folks in need, they get rough for us all. That means it’s a little harder to give than it might usually be.

So I am hoping that our business leaders – companies like Lakeside Books, Nucor Steel, International Paper, Crawford, CSI, Pace Dairy, Random House, Acuity, Raybestos and now Tempur Sealy – step up and step up big, both with allowing employees to do in-house campaigns and with potential corporate donations.

With Dr. Steele leading the charge, I’m sure the schools will be well represented, but here’s hoping they go even further.

I know the farmers are getting hammered with fuel prices, but the ag community in Montgomery County has such great leaders. Here’s hoping they find it in their hearts to share the bounty.

And look, here’s one more point. There are a lot of us who gripe and moan about government not being the be-all, end-all to everything. Too many people turn to the government for help or for bailouts way too often. I couldn’t agree more. That’s another reason the United Way is so important. It’s not taking our tax dollars. It’s not money being taken from us whether we want to or not. It is voluntary, neighbors helping neighbors – exactly the way it should be.

What’s the old saying, when times get tough the tough get going? Here’s a big hope that we all do so again. It will be needed.

Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Wednesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at