Friday Focus: Rappahannock United Way

Fueled by a mission to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of the local community, the Rappahannock United Way staff work day in and day outVolunteer_pic_reduc to provide services and resources for those who need them. As the organization celebrates its 75th anniversary and prepares for its upcoming Days of Caring, President Janel S. Donohue took time out of her busy schedule to chat with us for this week’s Friday Focus.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.).

A: Rappahannock United Way (RUW) is a nonprofit organization serving the City of Fredericksburg, Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties. RUW is excited to be celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. RUW is committed to advancing the common good by investing in programs that support the building blocks to a better life: education, income, and health.  We believe a quality education leads to a stable job, enough income to support a family through retirement, and good health.

At RUW, our goal is to create long-lasting change by helping more households emerge from poverty and achieve greater financial stability.  We encourage individuals, companies and organizations in our community to Live United — a call to action to give, advocate and volunteer locally. Rappahannock United Way is an efficient and effective organization.

RUW recently received a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, an objective, nationwide nonprofit evaluator. This is the fourth consecutive year RUW has received a four-star rating.  Charity Navigator measures a charity’s ability to effectively manage and grow its finances. Four stars means that Rappahannock United Way “exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in its cause.” In fact, only a quarter of all charities rated by Charity Navigator reach the four-star echelon.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A: Our favorite moments are seeing firsthand the amazing support and partnership throughout the community among the people, nonprofits, companies and Rappahannock United Way.  Whether you are participating in a Day of Caring, a fundraising event, or a Community Event, the impactful changes made by Rappahannock United Way for those in need throughout the Rappahannock area is evident and inspiring.

A particular favorite moment was watching our 2014 Success Videos that demonstrated how Rappahannock United Way is changing the story for individuals right here in our community. It feels good to see real people solve real problems and achieve long lasting positive change in their life.  This is why we do what we do.

(Watch the videos here: Education: Project Discovery Program; Health: Micah Respite Program)

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: I think our biggest challenge is to mobilize the caring power of our community to go beyond inspiring people to act, but doing it in a way that means we are all working in the same direction. We are blessed to live in a community full of people who constantly give of their time, talent and treasures to make a difference.  However, when the work is thinly spread around to too many different good causes the impact is small.  RUW is designed to mobilize individuals around key issues which are very specific and focused – when we can get everyone to focus, we will have impact.  Mobilizing people isn’t hard — it’s already happening; however, mobilizing everyone in the same direction is the challenge.  That’s what RUW has to do to create long lasting impact.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A:  Rappahannock United Way is excited to promote two very important events in our local community. The first event is the annual Days of Caring.  Days of Caring will occur on September 26 in Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg and Stafford; September 30 in Caroline; and October 3 in King George. Days of Caring provide local nonprofit agencies and schools with volunteer teams from local businesses to complete meaningful projects that fulfill agency and community needs.  Last year, over 330 Day of Caring Volunteers completed over 30 projects in one day.

The second event will be held on Sunday, October 19 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Fredericksburg Agricultural Fairgrounds.  This community event is FREE and will be a family fun event to celebrate Rappahannock United Way’s 75th year impacting the community.  Come out to enjoy food, fun and much family entertainment.  There will even be a real Monster Truck on site to take individuals for free rides!

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A:  Rappahannock United Way has a call to action to be a part of the change you want to see in your community. We encourage everyone to Live United: Give, Advocate, Volunteer.  Giving is easy.  You can give through your workplace campaign, give online at www.rappahannockunitedway.org, or send a check to Rappahannock United Way, 3310 Shannon Airport Circle, Fredericksburg, VA  22408.  Volunteering is easy, too.  Just go to our interactive volunteer website to find the latest volunteer opportunities in our community.   We want everyone to find opportunities to make a positive impact in their community.

Rappahannock United Way also has volunteer opportunities from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for its Community Appreciation Day on October 19, 2014.  Contact Terri Center at tcenter@rappahannockunitedway.org for more details.

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