Opinion: Giving is for everyone, and now is the time to act

I’m going to be honest with you: there are people in our community who need your help, and I’m going to ask you to give it. You may think that this is a message that is not intended for you, but I would like to convince you otherwise if you give me the opportunity. My name is Andy Kline, and I am honored to be this year’s Giving Campaign Chair for the United Way of Southeast Alaska.

And to be honest, I was surprised that the United Way people would ask me. I’m not particularly wealthy, I’ve never been elected to office, I’m just a normal guy who has a pretty normal job at Alaska Seaplanes. Some people may have heard me on KTOO, where I volunteer as a host on Fridays. But really, nothing too out of the ordinary. So why me? And as I was thinking about that, I realized that maybe that’s the perfect kind of person to talk to members of the community in Juneau about why they should donate. Because you don’t have to be rich, prominent or famous to care about your community and give what you can to help people in your community. It’s people like you and me, who work here and live our ordinary lives in this beautiful community, who are the most important part of ensuring that everyone in Juneau receives the basics of a good life.

At the United Way of Southeast Alaska, they identify three basic components of a good life: education, income, and health. The 35 partner agencies they support in Southeast Alaska work in one of these areas. During their lifetime, one in three people will use the services of a United Way partner agency. That could be AWARE, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska, NAMI Juneau, SAIL, Food Bank, or Cancer Connection. When you, a family member, or a neighbor asks for help from one of those organizations, I’m sure we all want that help to be there.

When the unexpected happens, the United Way is there to help people in our community. When COVID shut down normal channels to provide food to those in need, United Way’s CARES dining program served more than 75,000 meals using restaurants that had seen a sudden drop in business. This kept restaurants busy and fed our residents in need. When a devastating mudslide hit the Haines community in 2019, the United Way was there to feed first responders and recovery workers. When the worst happens, the United Way is there to help.

As ordinary Juneau residents, we can all agree that we want to be a part of helping people when they need it. The problem is that we all have busy lives and it’s hard to set aside time or money to help. But there’s an easy way to make giving something you can “set it and forget it.” Workplace Giving allows you to choose an amount you’re comfortable giving each month through payroll deduction, making you part of a network of assistance programs that help people in our community when they need it most. If your workplace doesn’t have the program, ask your human resources department to contact United Way to set it up; too easy. You can then create a monthly deduction on your own using the United Way website.

Like most of you reading this, I don’t have many resources at my disposal. But I know that I can give a small percentage of my earnings to make Juneau a better place for people who may need help. That could be just $5 a month, or maybe you can make a little more, it’s up to you. And once you do that, guess what? You have joined the ranks of the world’s philanthropists! Welcome to the giving community, it’s great to have you!

Call 907-463-5330 or visit www.UnitedWaySEAK.org for more information on how to be a part of the giving movement.

• Andy Kline is the chairperson of the United Way of Southeast Alaska’s 2022 Annual Giving Campaign.


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