Have you heard the one about a woman, a priest, two ministers and a rabbi? Sounds like the beginning of a joke, doesn’t it? It was a beginning, but not of a joke. In 1887, Denver, Colo. Frances Wisebart Jacobs, Rev. Myron Reed, Msgr. William O’Ryan, Dean Martyn Hart and Rabbi William Friedman recognized the need for cooperative action to address the city’s welfare problems.

The group put their heads together and created an organization to serve as an agent to collect funds for local charities, as well as to coordinate relief services, counsel and refer clients to cooperating agencies. They formed a movement that would spread throughout the country. More than 125 years later, the United Way is still focused on mobilizing the caring power of communities and making a difference in people’s lives.

The University of New Mexico conducts a United Way drive every fall, providing a convenient way for UNM employees to invest in agencies and charities that help those in need in our community. The theme of this year’s campaign is, “Help someone change their story.”

“I am so fortunate,” said, Julia Middendorf, RN/Clinical Research Coordinator. “By giving through the United Way, a donation can have an addictive effect, and perhaps spread my good fortune even further. It’s a win-win.”

The direct impact of a donation is not always seen, but large or small, it makes a difference in a person’s life. Giving just $1 per pay period can provide a new book and a learning toy for a child who currently has limited learning opportunities, or two hours of academic support for up to 10 students, giving them the needed help to focus and succeed in school.

Five dollars per pay period can provide learning activity supplies for 36 children for one month, or 16 hot meals for homebound seniors to receive nutritious food while remaining independent in their homes.

Connie Jefferson, Unit Administrator for University Advisement Center & Student Success Center said, “My giving money to the United Way is encouraged by UNM providing a convenient way to contribute to organizations that help those in need. Every dollar is beneficial to someone, so I hope that more people consider donating this year, to ‘Pay it forward’ and help someone change their story. I am.”

Payroll deduction is an easy way to give to the United Way and makes it possible to give a little at a time. By sharing a modest amount of each paycheck, you can give more than if you had to do it all at once. United Way does accept many forms of payment including credit cards, bill for payment, checks, cash, as well as stock.

When the UNM community donates to United Way, it makes change possible through Community Fund grants that reach more than 250 people in central New Mexico and ensures systemic change efforts to help agencies work better together. The philanthropy supports improvements to nonprofit organizations and connects donors to issues that matter, thereby strengthening our community and making it a better place for all of us to live, work and raise our families.