Editor’s Note: Bronwyn Beightol is the Chief Operating Officer of the United Way of Manatee County.
Easy. Sometimes I think we don't understand the meaning of the word. We say it is easy to step back, step away from challenges and convince ourselves that somebody else will take on that responsibility, ensure a positive outcome. Easy to stay in our own space, do what we do, safeguard our limited resources and keep what is mine while somebody else takes on a challenge we all agree exists. We are too busy, too frustrated, too 'put out' to ensure that the ideals we hold or the outcomes to which we aspire now belong in the hands of another, because it is easier, the path of least resistance, to take it from here.
The problem with that is that it is NOT easy. Easy is rare, elusive.
When we disengage, we make it that much harder to progress. Voice, intellect, talent, vision and 'hands' are lost to the effort. Easy 'happens' when everybody perceives a win -- not because their agenda was pushed forward in their way, but because we all see value in a shared goal and the path to its achievement. It's easy because the result is that we believe we have moved forward on a challenge in such a way that everybody understands the why and has invested in the how.
When United Way says that we fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community we serve... we know that the we is always collective. We know that when we fight alone, we all lose. We know that tough challenges are complex and tough solutions are even more complex -- however, working together, we can make the hard decisions that help us to understand how to engender change, change that will last for generations because it was imagined by the whole.
Just as our democracy is not built and sustained by any one person, a community is not built and sustained by any one person, organization, leader. We do not have the 'luxury' of abdicating our responsibility to one another because we do not agree with somebody's opinion, approach, mission. It is our moral imperative as part of a pluralistic society to seek to understand, learn and grow together. We must find ways to integrate multiple voices, outlooks, vision into community level and national solutions. We do not all have to agree or assimilate, in order to move forward, but we all benefit by agreeing not to take the 'easy' way out.
As we begin to move forward, my hope is that we will bring our considerable individual talents, abilities, insights and leadership together and find workable solutions to:
- Our children not reading on grade level by the end of third grade (currently half do not meet that benchmark in Manatee County) and are at high risk of not graduating from high school ready for life: Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
- Our individuals and families who are ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) who are working hard every day and still struggling to make ends meet -- one crisis away from instability (currently 43% of our community members)
- Our community members who have limited access to health supports that ensure thrivability
If you are wondering where to begin, consider this…
"Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in." Author Unknown
We look forward to engaging together! Join the movement at uwmanatee.org
Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.
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