United Way Monterey County: Bringing Communities Together for the Common Good

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by Michelle Arcos

April is national volunteer month, and to show how much we care, people across the country will be giving their time and energy, but not getting paid for it. Volunteer month is a time when you have the opportunity to help your fellow citizens and communities by volunteering and sharing common goals to embrace community service.

One widely known non profitable organization, that is recognized for its community service is, United Way.  United Way has nearly 1,300 offices nationwide that help individuals improve their lives by emphasizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good. UnitedWayMontereyCounty is one of those offices that better serves the Monterey County.  The vision of United Way Monterey County hopes to engage the community and focus on resources to improve lives in MontereyCounty.  Many of the individuals and families that participate with the organization reach their human potential through education, income stability and living healthy. Annually, one in four Monterey County residents will use a United Way agency. UWMC highlights three areas on which they focus on to help the county, they are to give, advocate and volunteer.

The give aspect of UWMC emphasizes that it is a locally governed organization that identifies and addresses the most critical issues and needs of the people within the community. However, what makes United Wayso effective is that it helps the entire community. Your dollars remain locally in the community. Their funding helps meet basic needs, and increase self-sufficiency. Also it helps move people in crisis to become stable and in return it helps build successful kids and strong families.

Be visible. Be loud. This is the motto to promote advocacy for UWMC. Anyone can be an advocate and it can take as little as wearing a “Live United” shirt to promote the organization. Or you can speak out to improve such areas as education, income, and health, by reaching out to members of Congress and within the community. You can be the reason of change for the better in your community!

Lastly, the Volunteer Center of Monterey County became a program of United Way Monterey County in 2007.  Their mission is to encourage community members to volunteer and build the size of community organizations and to engage volunteers. This is done by matching volunteers with opportunities to serve within the community. UWMC partners with hundreds of community-based nonprofits throughout the county to link them with volunteers who have the skills and interests that match their organization’s needs. With April being National Volunteer Month, we encourage you to check out the volunteer opportunities in your area. Why volunteer? Volunteer to make a difference, show you care deeply about an issue, respond to the call of service, have fun, use a skill or develop a skill and give back to your community! UWMC provides search engines such as theVolunteer Center site to help you find the best match for you. You can learn more about volunteering and sign up at: http://www.volunteermontereycounty.org/

Michelle Arcos is a senior majoring in Human Communications at CSUMB, from French Camp, CA. She currently works at CSUMB for an outreach program called Educational Talent Search, and her job entails serving as a college advisor for students at Seaside High. She loves to travel, attend concerts and cultural festivals. She plans to spend the summer traveling to several cities in the U.S.