Kevin Ressler, President and CEO, United Way of Lancaster County. (Photo: Sam Interrante)
Kevin Ressler, President and CEO, United Way of Lancaster County. (Photo: Sam Interrante)

As I head out for my Thanksgiving vacation, I find myself reflecting on gratitude.

As a nonprofit executive, it means a lot to be in a community that raises millions of dollars on one day for hundreds of organizations.

It says a lot, too, that year after year the amount increases over prior year. To me, it means that we have a community that has a desire to share abundance with those experiencing scarcity.

I was also grateful that this community looks at that abundance and also asked if there are ways we can do and act and be better. Here at United Way of Lancaster County, we have been exploring deeply our own place in this now-constantly-crazy world. The staff and I are grateful for a board that encourages and supports our self-examination on how our work must be equitable and balance innovation and propriety.

But our greatest gratitude must be reserved for you. On behalf of our board and our staff, we express a truly deep sense of gratitude to every supporter. 2021 has continued to be full of unexpected challenges and opportunities, but the camaraderie of the community shown on Extraordinary Give is also seen in every workplace campaign and standalone initiative we do in this generous community. We can't thank you enough for the support we received during this year’s record breaking Extraordinary Give.

United Way of Lancaster County’s $78,574 set a new record for us to put back into our signature programs. Our United Way staff responded to over 65,000 contacts for help in our 211 call center while our VITA staff and volunteers saved community members over $1.5 million dollars in tax preparation fees, and One United Lancaster produced over 1,000 news articles about the local community. And of course, on top of that, we distributed millions of dollars to other local organizations working collectively to solve big problems.

Thank you for being you. The spirit of generosity in this community makes it easier to face the challenges too many of our neighbors still face with a belief we can make a difference. I encourage you, as you sit with your family to talk about what makes you grateful.

And if you are still making your end of the year contribution plans, we hope you will consider United Way of Lancaster County, whether on Giving Tuesday, into the holiday season, or just as you take an end of the year look-back.