Today, I pulled up to my home and stared across at the Port. What I saw was machinery and storage containers prominent along the horizon. I paused before I grabbed the chocolate, flowers, and card tucked in my jacket that I was eager to present to the love of my life.
As I looked out at the Port, and recalled why Wilmington is called the “Port City," which heralds its hard working ship builders, I thought this is the place where The United Way of the Cape Fear Area was born. The Port is where families built ships to fuel an effort to thwart injustices happening overseas. Even then, people were willing to sacrifice their lifestyle, to give until it hurt, to help their fellow human beings across the world and inside our own community.
The first United Way workplace campaign was built with the local Port employees, who stepped up to help others. Our United Way was born during that time in 1941 – 80 years ago. Many things have changed since then, but one thing is constant. Local heroes step up and offer a hand to ensure that we all prosper together.
I came to our United Way after serving the community through the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina for 6 years. When I began working with the United Way, there was a recession, which put even greater hardships on our community. Suddenly, people were seeing their own neighbors and people just like them, in need of help.
Years later, we are still struggling to help working families recover from natural disasters. We have been called to assist our community during natural disasters, to provide for displaced citizens, and create treatment opportunities throughout the Opioid Epidemic. We have faced these challenges together, yet never before have we had to battle a Pandemic simultaneously.
We aren’t lucky, this type of resilience is not a matter of chance. It was intentional and strategic. We are prosperous because of love for one another and love for this community. Collectively, we give until it hurts, and in turn, the very fabric of our community is healed. I am proud to be a part of the community that will overcome, grow, and prosper despite these odds.
If you are wondering how you can help our community, ask me. I am local and accessible. I believe that it is my purpose to help navigate organizations and families unite their passions with tangible solutions that make our community so strong.
I will close by asking one question. If there was a time to give and support our neighbors, what better time than now? If not now, then when? What are we waiting for?
Let’s roll up our sleeves and stand together on the issues where we all agree they cannot be ignored. A united community where everyone is healthy, safe, and prosperous.
United We Feed. United We Teach. United We Heal. United We Thrive.
For more information on how to support your local, independent United Way, visit: https://uwcfa.org/invest-in-your-community/
Tommy Taylor, born in Mansfield, Ohio, achieved his Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Guilford College, and most recently achieved his Masters in Public Administration from UNCW in 2019. Tommy’s career started as a Crisis and College Counselor at Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Virginia. After 4 years, Tommy moved to his favorite vacation spot, Wilmington, North Carolina, and started his new career as the Regional Development Manager for Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC. Six years later, after tripling food distribution and doubling revenues, he accepted the Vice President of Community Impact position at the United Way of the Cape Fear Area. Now serving as the CEO, Tommy is thankful to be able to see the good side of the world that many people do not get a chance to experience and to be able to be part of the solutions to our community's deepest problems.
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