In the process of developing the theme for this year’s campaign, it was impossible not to think of the classic 1988 film “Big,” starring Tom Hanks. He plays Josh Baskin, a teenager who is transformed into a 30-year-old man overnight. It sounds like any 13-year-old’s dream: wake up when you want, eat what you want and make all your own decisions. However, Josh quickly realizes that despite his newfound freedom, adulthood comes with its own set of worries and responsibilities that no child is ready to handle.
The sobering reality is that many children in our community find themselves confronted with the responsibilities of being an adult far before they are ready. In our community, many teenagers may be responsible for getting younger siblings to and from school, and in the process, miss the time to get their own work done. Some children may be struggling to cope with emotional or behavioral issues, but find that they have no one to turn to for help in working through them.
What gives me hope for northeast Florida is that United Way is doing so many great things to change these outcomes by making positive changes in education, income and health through their initiatives. With initiatives like Achievers For Life and Full Service Schools, I know that students in our community can overcome non-academic barriers to their success, because United Way provides access to resources like qualified mentors and therapists who can offer effective help. I know that families can avoid having their children take jobs when they save money on tax preparation, learn about tax credits and improve their financial literacy—-all at no fee.
These outcomes are just a fraction of the big picture of what United Way is doing in our community, but as the 2014 campaign chair and someone who strongly believes in advancing the common good, I hope we can all see the value of making life better for everyone. However big the area of opportunity to improve the quality of life in our community is, United Way has proven that its passion, resources and expertise are all bigger.
United Way is research-based, data-driven and held accountable by the results they deliver. That’s why Florida Blue and our more than 11,000 employees have led the way for 15 years now in giving and serving with United Way, and that’s why we will continue to support their outstanding work together.[hr]
Join Pat Geraghty to kick off the Big Results. Big Impact. campaign at our event on October 8. RSVP today!