So, are we ready for life to get back to pre-pandemic normalcy?

I say yes! Like never before, I appreciate the constants in our world, like being about to go to a sporting event, having meals with family and friends as well as just being able to sit in a meeting or attend church with a group of people. Things that are more routine bring me thoughts of comfort in a world where the COVID-19 pandemic has made me long for the normal and constants in life.

A constant that has been around prior to and during this pandemic is United Way. We have been in our community supporting our citizens for 70 years. Many of you have donated to United Way, served as a board director, offered volunteer support and served with or been assisted by one of our nonprofit partners.

There is something to be said for the constants in life, those groups or individuals that we can count on to be there in our times of need and our times of celebration. We are so honored to be one of those community constants.

Like each year, this is the time that you will hear about and have the opportunity to support the United Way Community Giving Campaign. This collective effort is made up of thousands of supporters who believe in the collective good that can happen when supporting United Way. We are so appreciative to our donors, volunteers, nonprofit partners and all who join together through United Way to lift the quality of life for our citizens. The collective effort makes a huge difference for so many, including those who need the help and those who want to provide the help.

During the uncertainty of the pandemic, the United Way has provided steady support to our local community. We continue to fund local health and human service programs for individuals and families throughout Nash and Edgecombe counties that are tackling three key areas: Education, Income-Financial Stability and Health. This funding has been vital to ensure that our community members have the extra supports needed, including those due to COVID-19 and its side effects.

In our Education programs, the goal is for all youth and families to achieve their full potential. Over the past year, United Way helped 5,720 people achieve their greatest potential through academic programs, after-school support and cradle-to-career programs, including an over-arching focus on the development of skills and attitudes helpful to be responsible and productive community members.

With our Financial Stability programs, we focus on increasing self-sufficiency, independence and income, where individuals and families can move from a crisis situation to independently meeting their own needs. Through United Way programs last year, 52,591 individuals were provided tools, support and resources to live independently.

In our Health programs, United Way funds encourage a healthier community where people can maintain healthy lifestyles. Last year, through United Way funding, 2,232 citizens improved their physical and mental well-being. We support programs that provide education and services needed to help people prevent and manage chronic physical or mental illnesses as well as gain access to healthy foods and active lifestyles.

Our 70th anniversary provides other great opportunities to help in our local community. We continue to have our COVID-19 Fund available for those who want to support continued recovery from the pandemic. We also have our new United Way Tar River Legacy Endowment for those who want to provide a planned gift. And events, like the Tar River Chefs Showcase and United We Can, will provide tangible ways to engage.

With all the uncertainties that the pandemic has brought, we are proud United Way remains a constant. As we commemorate our 70th anniversary, we look forward to fun events and activities on the horizon and the feeling of life getting back to normal, remaining appreciative of the constants in life.

Ginny Mohrbutter is the executive director of the United Way Tar River Region.