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United Way’s ‘.5K’ a silly success for the community

EDITORIAL

The Advocate-Messenger

The Heart of Kentucky United Way deserves some kudos for their extremely fun — and successful — “.5K” fundraiser held on Friday.

The unique event raised more than $10,000 for the organization, which helps fund many other good things all around Boyle, Garrard, Lincoln and Mercer counties.

The United Way is providing more than $417,000 to 39 programs in the area this year. Agencies benefitting from United Way Funding include Big Brothers Big Sisters, CASA of the Bluegrass, Family Services of Boyle County, Lincoln County Adult Education, Mercer Transformation, the Senior Companion program, the Gladys Project and Wilderness Trace Child Development Center, among many others, according to the agency’s most recent annual report.

The United Way has several goals for improving life here in central Kentucky, including increasing the number of children who are kindergarten-ready and the number of high-school graduates who are ready for college or a job; decreasing barriers to employment for families; and improving community health and making sure healthcare is affordable for everyone.

One of the most visible ways the United Way helps is through its annual Day of Action, when hundreds of volunteers tackle community improvement projects all around the region, improving parks, repairing buildings, visiting with the elderly, mentoring kids and more.

The United Way is staffed by people who live here, and it’s fueled by support from local donors and volunteers. You may very well be one of those donors or volunteers. It is the definition of grass roots — it’s the community helping itself make things better for everyone.

The “.5K” — a single, silly lap around Centre’s football field — was dreamt up to help the organization after an unexpected decrease in revenue. Money seems to be getting tight for almost everyone these days, and the United Way has not been exempt. It’s problematic when the United Way is short on funds, however, because the work it does with its money already supports so many other people who have limited, low incomes.

The agency helps shore up community supports in many different areas, ensuring that when individuals fall on hard times or need help that’s beyond their means, the community is able to care for them. Having such a strong support network is essential to everyone’s success in the long run.

We need United Way-backed programs protecting vulnerable children so they can develop properly; educating adults so they can get and hold jobs that improve their lives; teaching people how to be healthy so they need less medical care and pay fewer medical bills.

Without those supports, a community can fall apart. The cycle of poverty would inevitably ensnare more and more people. It would become harder to provide a strong workforce and attract business. People who we want contributing would instead begin to think about moving somewhere else.

Fortunately, none of that is the case, and Friday’s fundraiser shows the community is still interested in helping itself.

“I’m thrilled with the support of the community’s sponsorships and participants. They know it goes for a good cause,” Executive Director Stephanie Blevins said on Friday. “It’s a fun event and it’s good for the community.”

We couldn’t agree more.