In their own words: Why Big Sisters Gives to United Way

Most people know that United Way community partners help us advance our mission through their work, but did you know that many also help us by fundraising? Erica, an employee at our partner agency Big Sisters Association of Greater Boston, recently shared this letter she sent to her coworkers about why they support United Way.

We’re proud to have the support of such an amazing organization as Big Sisters and to work together to create lasting change in our community.

Good Morning!

The third week of our United Way Campaign begins today, and I wanted to take a moment to share with you the reasons why I choose to donate to the United Way. Like all of you, I believe that every girl deserves the support and the resources that she needs to reach her full potential. Working at Big Sister, we see the importance of mentorship play out in the lives of the girls we serve. We also see the multitude of obstacles that many girls face each day. I support the United Way because their programming takes a holistic approach to serving youth by focusing on three key areas: improved education, financial stability, and health.

In 2008, the United Way initiated a 10-year program that set out to achieve goals in these three areas. By 2018, the United Way is working to cut the number of high school dropouts in half; to cut the number of lower-income families who experience financial instability in half by working to get 1.9 million working families on a path to economic independence; and to increase by 1/3 the number of youth and adults who are healthy and avoid risky behaviors.

Today, we live in a country where 33 percent of the population is downwardly mobile, meaning that they make less than their parents and are descending the income ladder. We live in a country where 8 in 10 eighth graders won’t have the knowledge and skills to succeed in high school. In our country, almost 25% of adults earn less than $27,000 a year in jobs that offer no health care, vacation, or paid sick leave. We live in a country that understands that children who have the resources to eat better, who live in stable housing, and have health coverage are better prepared to learn in school and succeed in life. Yet, we live in a country where these basic human rights to food, shelter, health, and quality education are rights not easily accessible to all of our citizens.

I donate to the United Way because our country can and needs to be better. Because I know that my well-being is dependent on the well-being of my neighbors, and because each child deserves the equal opportunity to a healthy and stable life. The United Way works to ensure that more children have the critical skills to succeed in kindergarten, that more children are reading proficiently by 4th grade, and that more children have the resources at school to learn and be inspired. The United Way works with families to achieve sustainable employment, develop a savings and assets, and manage expenses. The United Way also advocates for key public policy changes that ensure more affordable housing and sustainable state income supports. The work of United Way strengthens the work of Big Sister and the lives of the girls that we serve.

I know that a non-profit salary doesn’t always allow us to make donations to the organizations that we feel connected to. However, not matter how much we choose to donate, when we donate to the United Way, we are supporting an organization that not only believes in people reaching their full potential, but also an organization that is willing to break down the challenges that youth and families face in our communities today and address each and every one through both direct service and systemic change.



Erica Brien, Big Sister Association of Greater Boston