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Opinion

United Way brings good to others, self-satisfaction

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October 22, 2009

All the cool kids Live United-and they are not just wearing a cool t-shirt.  When I initially heard of the Live United campaign, I thought the message was clear: it was a Beatles song I never heard of. I was quickly, and fortunately, corrected. Live United is a call to action initiated by United Way, a worldwide network stretching over 46 countries. This organization has made it its mission to improve people’s lives by creating opportunities for communities that create a caring network to improve the lives of all involved. Nearly 1,300 local organizations exist in the U.S., and even better, there is a Student United

Way on our very own cozy campus.   

I would have had no idea that Student United Way existed if I hadn’t had a class with the group’s president, Candis Sunderland, this semester. Her rocket-red hair is hard to miss and her passion for the cause is contagious.  Donning a white “Live United” shirt, she explained the organization’s mission and what we could all do to take part. By becoming a member of Student United Way, a person suddenly has a connection to local volunteer opportunities that range from little time spent to dedicated service opportunities. If something on the list doesn’t catch your eager eye, just ask for something more: the organization would be happy to connect you with a place that would gladly accept your help.   

On Sept. 18, I found myself and a roommate driving down the highway, radio loud, getting in the mindset to do some serious window washing. It was the Day of Caring and I had signed us up to volunteer-I am a caring person, after all. Once our mission was assigned, I was relieved. Washing windows is a specialty of mine, a secret I’ve been successfully keeping from my parents for years. My time had come and I was to show the world a talent-through sparkling windows at that. When we arrived, the elderly woman we were to assist was quietly waiting, watching the next angry Judge Judy wannabe on a small television set. As I washed the windows and chatted with her, I discovered she was a relative of one of my closest friends from high school. She knew the community I grew up in and recognized names as I said them. Soon the windows and my talent became less of a priority and the conversation grew. My roommate and I cleaned windows and fled from enthusiastic wasps that day, yet something much more significant took place.  We grew more as people and had a warm feeling from doing something good not for reward, but just because we can. As college students, our time is valuable and our wallets slim. 

Volunteering is a great (and cheap) way to obtain that do-gooder feeling, and the Student United Way makes it that much easier to just put down the excuses and do it. 

The Live United campaign has a great slogan: “Think of We Before Me.” How simple a phrase and how big the impact could be. Student United Way meets every other Tuesday at 4 p.m. and at 7 p.m., so if you can’t make one, you can still attend the other (But you don’t have to show up for both).  E-mail candis.sunderland@uwrf.edu for more info. I rediscovered the reward of volunteering and recommend for everyone to try it. If it didn’t go well last time, try it again in a new way. Join and Live United.   

<b>Laura Krawczyk</b> is a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Comments

Kate Smith on 19 Nov 2009: Hi! I am one of the co-founders of UWRF's Student United Way and I just wanted to say thank you for writing this story and for helping to spread the word about United Way at UWRF!