“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead
Margaret must have been thinking about the United Way when she spoke those words. In 1887, a few Denver residents recognized the need for cooperative action to address their city’s welfare problems. They put their heads together to plan the first united campaign for ten health and welfare agencies. They created an organization to serve as an agent to collect funds for local charities, as well as to coordinate relief services, counsel and refer clients to cooperating agencies, and make emergency assistance grants. That movement would spread throughout the country to become what we know now as the United Way. There are now over 1,800 community-based United Ways in 45 countries and territories.
The United Way of the Bemidji Area is in its 25th year of existence. It is much more than a fundraising organization. The United Way is a recruiter of community action, run by a volunteer Board of Directors along with over 700 community volunteers. That’s quite a number considering Bemidji has a population of slightly over 13,000. They are not afraid to take the lead on events that help those in need, including Coats for the Community and Holiday Gifts for Kids. A lot happens behind the scene as well including many community impact initiatives and programs. Click the United Way link on the right and read about their “Agenda for Lasting Change” under “about us”. A bold approach to having greater impact on major human service issues facing our community.
The United Way has many fundraising events throughout the year to make it easy to give. One such event is the 20th Annual Chili Cook Off at the Paul Bunyan Mall happening this Wednesday from 11am-1pm. A ticket to the event will get you a sampling of of 35 different chili recipes made by many businesses and organizations in the Bemidji area. There is always a theme for each year and this year is “1986 Entertainment”, movies, TV and game shows from 1986. Seeing all those presenters dressed up……….trust me, that alone will be worth the price of admission.
I have lived in Bemidji for about 10 years and had the privilege of serving on a couple United Way committees. There are so many non-profits in our area doing great things with very few resources. It really opened my eyes to the many challenges some of our residents are facing and the many organizations offering help. I think I drove by the homeless shelter on Irvine Ave for 2 years before I found out it wasn’t just a house. The United Way not only creates awareness about these organizations, they are also a funding source for many non-profits in the Bemidji Area. Over $293,00 will go back to the Bemidji non-profit community this year alone to fund many educational, income and health programs. An amazing amount of money for a community our size. Congratulations to the United Way of the Bemidji Area on 25 great years!
- Volunteers are needed to help set up Coats for the Community on Friday, September 30th from 8:30am until noon. Volunteers will assist in pairing boots and mittens and organizing coats. Please contact Ashli Bowen at the United way at email@example.com or call 444-8929.
- Volunteers are also needed for the Senior Community Cleanup day. Activities include raking and picking up leaves for seniors and people with disabilities. There will be a free continental breakfast and complimentary lunch. Contact Northwoods Caregivers at 333-8266 or visit www.northwoodscaregivers.org
Do you know of more volunteer opportunites in the Bemidji Area? Tell me about it at firstname.lastname@example.org