I’m going to be up front with you: There are people in our community that need your help, and I’m going to ask you to give. You might think that’s a message that isn’t meant for you, but I’d like to convince you otherwise if you’ll give me the chance. My name is Andy Kline, and I have the honor of being this year’s Giving Campaign Chair for the United Way of Southeast Alaska.
And to be honest, I was surprised the folks at United Way asked me. I’m not particularly wealthy, I’ve never been elected to office, I’m just a regular guy that works a pretty normal job over at Alaska Seaplanes. Some people might have heard me on KTOO where I volunteer as a host on Fridays. But really, nothing too out of the ordinary. So why me? And as I thought about that, I realized that maybe that’s the perfect type of person to talk to community members in Juneau about why they should give. Because you don’t have to be rich, or prominent, or famous to care about your community and give what you can to help people in your community. It’s people like you and me, who work here and live our ordinary lives in this beautiful community, who are the most important part of making sure everyone in Juneau is given the basic foundations of a good life.
At the United Way of Southeast Alaska, they identify three building blocks of a good life: education, income and health. All 35 of the partner agencies that they support in Southeast Alaska work in one of these areas. During their lifetime, one-in-three people will use the services of a United Way partner agency. That might be AWARE, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska, NAMI Juneau, SAIL, the Food Bank, or Cancer Connection. When you, or a family member, or a neighbor reaches out for help from one of those organizations, I am certain that all of us want that help to be there.
When the unexpected hits, United Way is there to help people in our community. When COVID shut down the normal channels to provide food for people in need, the United Way CARES Meal Program served over 75,000 meals by employing restaurants who had seen a sudden drop in business. This kept the restaurants busy and fed our residents in need. When a devastating landslide hit the community of Haines in 2019, The United Way was there to feed the first responders and recovery workers. When the worst strikes, United Way is there to help.
As ordinary residents of Juneau, we can all agree that we want to be part of helping support people when they need it. Trouble is, we’ve all got busy lives and it’s hard to put aside the time or dollars to help. But there’s an easy way to make giving something you can “set and forget.” Workplace giving lets you choose an amount you are comfortable giving on a monthly basis through payroll deduction, making you part of the network of assistance programs that help people in our community when they need it the most. If your workplace does not have the program, ask your HR department to reach out to United Way to set it up – it’s super-easy. Then you can create a monthly deduction on your own using the United Way website.
Just like most of you reading this, I don’t have a ton of resources at my disposal. But I know I can give a small percentage of my earnings to make Juneau a better place for people who may need a hand up. That might just be 5 bucks a month, or maybe you can do a little more – it’s up to you. And once you do that, guess what? You’ve joined the ranks of the world’s philanthropists! Welcome to the community of giving- it’s great to have you!
Please call 907-463-5330 or visit www.UnitedWaySEAK.org for more information on how to be a part of the giving movement.
• Andy Kline is United Way of Southeast Alaska 2022 Annual Giving Campaign Chair.