Supporting United Way the ‘right thing to do’

Published 10:27 am Thursday, June 27, 2019

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It’s the right thing to do.

Mike Ernst knows it. So does Matt Britt.

Both support the Davie County United Way. For Ernst, supporting the United Way is something he’s done his entire adult life. For Britt, it’s a family tradition that he’s happy to continue.

And both know the difficulties United Way faces – difficulty in raising enough money to meet the needs of the community, difficulty in deciding which agencies provide the most benefits and get funded, difficulty in maintaining a positive image of importance in the community.

“When I first heard of United Way, I realized what a worthwhile agency it was,” Ernst said. “The United Way understands the needs of the community. “The United Way has the ability to understand where dollars need to be spent. It’s one way you can guarantee your dollars get to the area where the dollars are needed the most.”

“I see the United Way as the advocate, funder and supporter of non-profits that can’t speak for themselves,” Britt said.

He saw it first hand growing up, as his dad was the executive director of the Center for Exceptional Children in Forsyth County. He would bring young Matt along occasionally as he made speeches about the benefits of the center.

Many of these non-profits don’t have the time or know-how to raise funds – but they provide invaluable services, he said.

The United Way has a better handle on non-profits and their services than the average individual, making it the perfect agency to support to make your community a better place, Britt said.

Ernst believes that, too.

He also knows how difficult it is for a United Way to mobilize resources, organize, connect with the community, and eventually, improve the lives of people in the community. The Davie County United Way is doing that right now, getting ready for a fall campaign.

“It’s a major task to be able to do those things,” Ernst said. Davie United Way, he said, does an excellent job, especially considering the small paid staff.

Agencies seeking money pitch their programs to a committee of volunteers – made up of a cross-section of the community. The committee makes recommendations to members of the board of directors, who ultimately decide which gets funded.

“It’s a very efficient way to do it,” he said.

Ernest should know. He’s spent more than 30 years as a United Way volunteer, first in Forsyth County, now in Davie. He’s also a volunteer with other community non-profits.

“I’ve always felt that giving back to the community is something we should do. If you can donate time and/or dollars, you should do that.

“One of the challenges of the United Way in Davie County is to get the pathways we need from the companies. We need the businesses in Davie County to give the United Way a chance to come in and do an employee campaign.”

Donating money is a personal thing for most people, and they want to know their money is being spent wisely, on programs they support.

“Give them an opportunity to participate. They’ll learn that the United Way in Davie County is very efficient … and uses the money to fund agencies with identified needs.

“No organization knows better, looking broadly across the community, than the United Way. There’s not a better place,” Ernst said. “We have people who are hurting and who have needs. We’re always better in a community where everyone is lifted up.

“We all need to make a positive difference … through our time, dollars, volunteer support and work. We have a responsibility to make a positive difference in the community in which we live.”