POCATELLO — Living United has been a part of who I am since I was a young girl growing up in Old Town Pocatello. I remember my grandfather offering countless people who were down on their luck a place to stay and a hot meal in exchange for a hard day’s work.
I also witnessed time and again my father give those struggling to make the ends meet a job at his construction company. Some months he barely took home a paycheck for himself.
He not only taught his employees a valuable trade, but he also taught them about life and that all things were possible through personal strength and hard work. Without knowing, he taught me the same lessons. You could say, “Baby, I was born this way.”
Joining United Way of Southeastern Idaho as the resource development manager, I am ecstatic about the future of the organization and our ability to build up the cornerstones of education, financial stability and health in Southeastern Idaho.
A majority of my time is spent coordinating local workplace giving campaigns within our seven counties. The workplace campaign is about more than raising money for worthy causes; it also strengthens connections between employees and their community.
Each year UWSEI helps facilitate and custom build workplace campaigns for over 100 local and corporate entities and inspires over 2,700 donors to give where their passion lies. We are bringing people together from all walks of life to be a part of local long term solutions.
Do you know ALICE? ALICE, a United Way acronym which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, represents the growing number of individuals and families in SEI who are working hard but are unable to afford basic necessities of housing, food, child care, health care and transportation. In most cases, they are not eligible for public assistance because they are, in fact, earning income above the federal poverty level.
These struggling working poor individuals and families are faced with difficult choices daily, often detrimental in the long run. Put food on the table or gas in the car? Take a sick child to the doctor or pay the utility bill?
These are tough decisions our friends and neighbors are making every day and they are the reason I choose to devote my days fundraising for programs through UWSEI’s Community Investment Process. These 33+ programs have plans and passion but possibly lack the resources or financial capabilities to help move our ALICE families without additional funding.
This isn’t just a household problem; it’s a community problem. How can our community thrive when over 40 percent of our households don’t earn enough to achieve a “survival budget”? Economic success in our households is a win for local companies that employ them and also stabilizes the fabric of our community.
In our truly great community, people take care of each other and invest in the resources the community needs. In 2018, our top 10 workplace campaigns impacted our communities’ immediate needs and invested in long-term solutions by donating over $371,000. A majority of these donations come from $2- $10 payroll deductions, proving that even a small amount can make an overwhelming impact.
When you partner with United Way of SEI, you are helping make our community stronger, healthier and a better place for all of us. As we begin our local campaign season, if you are a business owner, manager or an individual, I challenge you to connect with me to find out more about how you can create change and inspire your teams to get involved right here in Southeastern Idaho. Because change doesn’t happen alone.
Wendi Ames’ experiences have always put her in a capacity to bring people together. She is thrilled to share her passions around community giving and tailor making workplace campaigns to meet the philanthropy goals of the companies she works with. Throughout her career, she has lead and trained the organization of teams, facilitated community events and created targeted marketing to increase revenue. Wendi loves spending time outdoors with her family and enjoys all that Southeast Idaho has to offer.