United Way executive director thankful to be able to help others

(The following is a Thanksgiving message from Catawba County United Way Executive Director Mark Bumgarner)

Well, Thanksgiving is here!  It can feel like a blur between parties, family gatherings and seasonal events.  In between those moments the peace of thankfulness for all I have is a warm and humbling moment.  That’s what Thanksgiving is about, right?  Taking stock of all we’ve received and being thankful.  After all, many people are not as fortunate.  As I ponder this, I can’t but help to think “maybe there’s more to it”.  

CCUW Exe. Dir. Mark Bumgarner

I think of the 14 year old whose mother is a single parent of four children, all under 10 except the 14 year old.  That 14 year old was told there would be no Christmas presents for him as they couldn’t afford it, and he said that was ok as long as his younger siblings could get presents. A simple ask and over 35 people responded to help.   And I think, “could do more to help this family?”.

I think of the young father who had to choose between rent for his family and his sick wife’s medication.  His wife died, and he now is raising a young child alone and trying to pay for a funeral and Christmas while facing staggering grief.  A small donation towards burial was pledged, but I think “could I do more?”

I think about the mentally ill man living in the woods behind my office, how he hears and see’s things that are not there and they torture him.  I think of how he was wearing shorts on 40 degree mornings and how cold he must be.  I left food, a coat and a blanket.  Not much, but maybe enough to make that morning less miserable  for him.  But I think “could I do more?”

The answer, of course, is yes I could do more.  We all could.  And we must do so boldly and unapologetically.  In truth, really being thankful must include helping others.  Otherwise, it’s not truly thankfulness- it’s being comfortable you don’t have the struggles others have.  That seems decidedly not what Thanksgiving is about.  Or life for that matter.

Maybe, instead of just feeling grateful and humble, I, and we as a team, can be resolved to ensure everyone has the blessings we have.  Maybe we can find a  way to work in our community to make things better for everyone.  Maybe we should be open to those moments when need presents itself in front of me and always seek those moments out instead of waiting for them to come to us.  I think the best way to show thankfulness is to be the catalyst for other’s thankfulness. And I’m thankful to be a part of Catawba County United Way.  Catawba County United Way has been helping citizens of Catawba County reach their potential in strengthening our community for decades.  Help us continue.  Volunteer.  Donate.  Be bold in helping others.  After all, together we are all capable of more. 

Happy Thanksgiving my friends,