Every year, the HUB Northwest team attends the United Way of Whatcom County’s annual kick-off luncheon. Last fall, the keynote speaker was Ralph Smallwood from Home Port Learning Center, a transitional alternative school for struggling and at-risk youth that utilizes hands-on and skill-building techniques to build confidence and increase job readiness. I have been an active supporter of our local not-for-profit community for years but had never heard of this program. I was so intrigued by Ralph’s presentation; I decided to take a tour of their facilities the very next day. During the tour of Home Port, it occurred to me that this program and the good things they do for at risk-youth is just one example of how my support of the United Way is making a difference and changing lives all over Whatcom County. This tour reinforced my belief that donating to the United Way is the best way to help make a difference in our community. Through the United Way’s vetting process and connections within the community, they were familiar with Home Port and knew that partnering with them would change the lives of these kids. It’s that kind of research and thoughtful partnering that makes HUB Northwest proud to be a long-time supporter of the United Way.
Just like the United Way, HUB Northwest and its predecessor agency The Unity Group has deep roots in the community. It has always been important for us as an organization and as individuals to be actively involved in our community and support organizations that support kids, education and health. As an insurance broker that provides employee benefits programs to businesses throughout Whatcom County and the Pacific Northwest, we are strong advocates of health and wellness programs. We see the benefit to businesses in lower costs in premiums and increased productivity in the workplace when their employees are healthy. When individuals are healthy, businesses and communities become stronger. The United Way knows this, which is why they invest in programs and projects that advance education, income and health for our entire community.
In many years, HUB Northwest’s Bellingham office has 100 percent participation in the United Way Campaign.
According to the county health rankings and roadmaps, Whatcom County has risen from the fifth-healthiest to fourth-healthiest county in Washington State. That’s great and it was not by accident. It was made possible thanks to the combined work of United Way and countless other partners and people in our community to increase health care access and prevention, help individuals and families live lives safe from violence and abuse, and insure healthy and active living for all. United Way is working with a variety of local projects and programs to make these things happen. Some are very well-known programs are the Bellingham Food Bank, Opportunity Council, Whatcom Family YMCA and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County. Others are lesser known programs like Work Opportunities, Sun Community Services, GRADS and Home Port Learning Center.
Programs receive funding through a process managed by the fund distribution committee. The fund distribution committee is a group of trained community volunteers who ensure that all funded programs are reviewed and vetted each year. Programs must be working towards specific goals in our community and show that they are using funds effectively and efficiently to make measurable progress. Phil Latendresse, vice president of operations for HUB Bellingham has served on this committee for over five years. He has been impressed, both by the community driven process and the amazing programs and results. If you’re interested in seeing exactly where your donations are going and being part of this unique process, I’d encourage you to contact United Way, as they are always looking for dedicated volunteers to be part of this process conducted in the spring of each year.
HUB Northwest has a very strong culture of philanthropy, both nationally and locally, and sees incredible value in partnering with United Way. We trust their organizational vetting, fiscal responsibility, non-duplication of services and commitment to a healthier community. They aren’t just a pass through or a third-party funder. They work with incredible programs that many might not even be familiar with. They hold those programs accountable and think outside the box for different ways to tackle local issues. Each year, United Way collaborates with hundreds of businesses, donors, volunteers and nonprofit organizations to make Whatcom County stronger and healthier for all of us.
Every year at this time, the Bellingham office conducts an extremely successful United Way Campaign. Many years we have had 100 percent participation from our staff. We recognize that United Way isn’t just another nonprofit organization. It’s a life-changing system that, through a unique structure, is able to impact 100,000-plus people each year and work towards important goals that benefit all of us. The more money we raise for this year’s campaign, the more programs United Way can partner with and the more lives we can change together.
We all win when individuals are healthy, when children succeed, and when the cycle of poverty ends for local families. Donate to this year’s United Way Campaign and be a part of making great things happen.
About United Way of Whatcom County
United Way of Whatcom County runs more than 150 workplace giving campaigns during the fall to benefit Whatcom County’s Community Impact Fund, which focuses on education, income, and health. For more information about making a contribution, conducting a United Way workplace campaign, or for more information about United Way of Whatcom County, go online to unitedwaywhatcom.org.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Barry Hanson is the executive vice president of HUB Northwest.