United Way Of Wyoming Valley Guided By An Inner Compass
Although I was always a fairly good student and did well in most subjects, I absolutely dreaded science classes. From junior high to high school to college, I would rather go to the dentist than to science class and, for me, the only thing worse than chemistry and physics labs were the dozen or so kidney stones I have had over my lifetime. Last week, however, I saw a headline in the paper that caught my attention because, to my surprise, I remembered learning about the topic in my eighth grade earth and space science class more than 40 years ago. The article was about the ever-changing distance between the magnetic north pole and the true North Pole. Briefly, the earth’s outer core is made of molten iron. Because it is magnetic and liquid, it is in perpetual motion. When a compass points north, it is actually pointing to “magnetic north” which could be from 200 to 1,200 miles away from the true North Pole, a fixed point of land known as the “top” of the world. The earth spins on an imaginary axis that runs through the north and south poles. If you were a sailor, explorer, or navigator, using a compass and knowing the difference between magnetic north and true north were important things to know to guide your travels and journeys. Given the technology that is available to us today, most of us now rely on GPS systems to help us get to where we are going. As we navigate through life and contend with the world that spins around us, however, following our “inner compass” and knowing our “true north” will always help us head in the right direction. For nearly 100 years, the United Way of Wyoming Valley has always been guided by an inner compass as well. Our compass directs our work toward improving our community and meeting the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. This hasn’t changed since our founding in 1921. Our true north is the belief that we are all connected. The health and strength of our community and our own wellness is dependent on one another. This sense of connectedness and interdependence is the very essence of the United Way’s credo, Live United. The Wyoming Valley is very different from what it was in 1921 and, over the years, the United Way has evolved in how it serves the community. Yet, we have always been guided by the belief that the community will be stronger when we all work together and whenever we reach out a hand to one, we can influence the conditions for all. Today, thanks to thousands of donors, volunteers and partners, we continue to reach more and more Wyoming Valley children and families in poverty and the evidence that conditions are improving for the entire community is apparent. Since 2015, several key measures of our work, including the child poverty rate, high school graduation rates, quality of early childcare, and the number of substantiated child abuse cases are all moving in the right direction. We have a long way to travel, but we are thrilled with the progress being made. Mother Teresa once said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” When families are in poverty, children will struggle and peace will always be hard to find. We don’t have to be scientists or even like and remember our science classes to know that if we could all set our compasses on “belonging to each other” and Living United, we will indeed be going in the right direction and headed for the top of our world. BILL JONES is president and CEO at United Way of Wyoming Valley.