The United Way of Howard County announced Wednesday that it has raised $1.37 million in its annual campaign with a month left to reach the $2 million goal.
The organization is about two-thirds of the way there – a figure that encouraged Abbie Smith, United Way director.
“We’re right where we should be,” she told a group gathered at Community Howard Specialty Hospital Wednesday afternoon.
She warned she’d be giving the bare-bones, acoustic version of her intended presentation because … well, she’s been a little distracted with other things happening in the community, like a tornado.
Someone recently asked her how the United Way is involved in disaster relief, she said.
She compared the community to a 5,000-piece puzzle on a card table in grandma’s house. In that scenario, the United Way is grandma, trying to make the intricate pieces fit together.
Only the United Way faces challenges that grandma doesn’t, Smith said.
“There are no boundaries on the community puzzle,” she said. “There are sometimes missing or misshapen pieces. There is no perfect picture.”
Still, the United Way works to piece the puzzle together by setting up a framework that will lead to a more educated, healthier and financially stable community.
The United Way funds organizations like the Mental Health Association, Literacy Coalition of Howard County and the volunteer income tax assistance program. And these organizations form the edges of the puzzle that hold the community together, Smith said. The edges keep it stable.
Then, along comes your cousin’s bratty kid who sweeps his hands across the puzzle and breaks the pieces apart, Smith said.
“Let’s call him flood or tornado,” she said. “He messes it all up. You’re sad. You’re angry, but we’ve got this.”
It takes donors and advocates to get through a flood or a tornado. Those people are organized by the United Way from its existing framework — its network.