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United Way and its supporters are to be commended

February 17, 2011

For many of us, it’s been a little harder to be generous this winter. It’s been perhaps three or four years since America has felt good about itself economically, and penny pinching and belt-tightening have become habitual.

It doesn’t mean we can’t get by, it just means that our budgets have been taken down a peg, and we have to be careful.

But consider those who were just barely scraping by before the downturn hit. There’s a very good likelihood that those who were struggling to stay afloat when times were good have been not just inconvenienced, but devastated, by the recession.

This means two things. One, they need our help more than ever. And two, those who have stepped up to the plate and contributed to their well-being in the past year are all the more appreciated.

United Way of Washington County understood the landscape when it set a slightly lower — but still ambitious — goal of $1.6 million this year. It says much of our local United Way and our local people and businesses that this goal was achieved, with about $5,500 to spare.

We congratulate United Way Executive Director Leah Gayman, campaign co-chairs Roger Stenessen and Carolyn Brooks, and the many citizens and corporate citizens who made this achievement possible.

When goals of giving can be met in bad times, it gives us confidence that Washington County is in good hands and is filled with good hearts.

We also use this opportunity to look to the future, in what promises to be even tighter times for the nation’s disadvantaged. Whenever governments cut back, the first items cut are generally programs for the people who have no voice, or political power.

It is not improper that governments should watch their spending, but this can only be done (without detriment to civilization) if private citizens step in to hold up the safety nets for those who are less fortunate, often through no fault of their own.

We trust the people in this county who have been so generous in the past will continue to do so, and that perhaps some who have not stepped forward as yet will do so as well.

Gayman properly quoted the late Mike Callas in saying that the world is run by people who show up. We thank those who showed up for United Way, and for the people of Washington County, this year.

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