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United Way: Moving forward with compassion

HELENA VAN VOORST

Dear Neighbors and Friends,

“Are you comfortable shaking hands?”

It’s funny to think of how awkward that may have sounded 18+ months ago. Today those words carry more weight than the simple question itself. Unlike, “how are you,” we don’t expect a generic response. “Are you comfortable shaking hands” is a genuine inquiry, a way to check in with others as we slowly reacclimate ourselves to in-person interactions. The odds of being answered with an extended right hand are as high as being offered an elbow bump or a hand-to-heart. I like the spirit of the question because it demonstrates compassion and a willingness to meet others where they are while also striving to move forward.

UWAC, too, has continued to move forward with compassion at the heart of our mission to improve lives and strengthen Addison County. In our strategic plan we promised to be ever-evolving and forward thinking, to lead in collaboration, and to grow awareness and support for local challenges. We, like all of our partners, have had to change how we approach our work thanks to the pandemic. Despite the numerous hurdles, UWAC has continued to convene our partners to help work through serious issues ranging from homelessness to racial equity. I am proud to work alongside some of the brightest and most ambitious folks in human services — Addison County is lucky to have these professionals in our corner of the state, and we are all grateful to be supported by neighbors like you.

The end of our Fiscal Year 2021 meant saying goodbye to three board members who each finished six-year terms with UWAC: Jerrod Rushton, Abby Blum and Darcy Tarte. Their leadership and friendship has been invaluable to UWAC. I will miss having their guidance and support as Board members, but am thankful for the ways they’ve already continued to show their ongoing support of our work.

Speaking of our work, it’s far from over. UWAC’s Board, staff and funded partners could not continue to fight for the well-being of every resident of Addison County without your generous support — thank you.

With gratitude,

United Way of Addison County Executive Director Helena Van Voorst

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