September 15, 2022
You see it on our t-shirts, our social media pages, flyers, and all over our campaign materials; but what does Live United actually mean? It’s a fair question; it’s much easier to quote a fun slogan than to sit down and try to define it. But a quotable slogan means nothing if there isn’t significance behind it.
Fortunately and unfortunately, the true meaning behind Live United can’t always be captured in a single definition. The beauty about “Live United” is that it means something slightly different to each person. No two people will have the exact same response when you ask them how to define it, and that’s okay! It’s these differences in views that actually drive the true meaning home. It’s about all of us coming together from our diverse backgrounds, philosophies, races, genders, etc., to create communities where everyone is cared for and has access to the tools they need to survive and thrive. Since 1887, United Way has been mobilizing generously donated dollars to fund charities, relief efforts, counseling services, and emergency assistance grants to support individuals and families in local communities. This “coming-togetherness” that has been at the core of United Way’s mission since the beginning is at the heart of what Live United means.
To help give you a holistic view of what Live United means, we’ve polled our very own staff members here at United Way of Whatcom County and asked them. These are their responses!
“To Live United means thinking beyond ourselves and our personal lives and caring for our community, striving to improve the lives of folks who are struggling, collaborating. Luckily for me, this means working in a job that I love for an organization that does good and helps folks thrive in our community and all over the world.”
—Denise Kilcline, Development and Program Manager
“For me, Living United is a proactive relationship that connects me with our community. I am humbled by the role I play helping bring together the community to maximize the reach and impact our donors have in Whatcom County.”
—Mike Weinstein, Senior Staff Assistant
To me, Live United embodies the idea of community. When we come together, give together, and advocate together we create positive change, bringing hope and opportunity to more of our Whatcom County friends and neighbors. The power of collective impact is inspiring!”
—Patricia (Patty) Boyce, Director of Development and Community Impact
“Living United to me means recognizing that the needs of others are just as important as my own and working to make sure everyone has those needs filled. It means recognizing our own biases and flaws and the systemic ones we internalize and uphold, and laying those convictions down for the sake of the common good. It means moving forward as a united front, together, making sure no one gets left behind in the process.”
—Rebecca Ricks, Communications and Development Manager
“For me, Living United is being part of something bigger than myself. It’s about empathy and stepping into someone else's shoes. It’s about not just putting aside our differences but appreciating them—and each other—and really focusing on what we can accomplish when we all work together. Because at the end of the day, we can all agree that no family should have to go without food, no child should have to suffer the effects of homelessness or abuse, and no hardworking friend or neighbor should be denied the opportunity to build a better life. When we give people hope and skills and care, we create new pathways and possibilities for our entire community. I truly believe that every time we help someone fill a need, solve a problem, or reach a goal, we all win.”
—Kristi Birkeland, President and CEO
These are just some of the key tenants of how our team defines Live United.
All these quotes are awesome and convey perfectly what Live United means. But what does this look like practically?
Here are a few ways that you can Live United daily:
One of the most tangible ways that you can Live United is by giving. Money given to United Way of Whatcom County is distributed to a network of carefully vetted nonprofits here in our county that provide resources, programs, educational opportunities and more that help move struggling individuals and families towards financial stability. When you give to United Way, you invest in the wellbeing of your friends, neighbors, and fellow community members, which in turn helps us create stronger and more resilient communities!
One of best ways to Live United is to advocate for the problems and challenges that impact our communities. The best solutions begin with a deep understanding of the real issues people are facing right here n Whatcom County. Research issues, make connections, and take action. By advocating, you help give voice to those problems and pave the way for solutions.
Related reading: How to Become an Advocate
Giving of your time is also a terrific way to Live United. Volunteering helps increase the reach of the good organizations are doing. Plus, it just feels good!
Live with an Equity Mindset
It's impossible to talk about Living United without addressing systemic issues that can make it more difficult for certain groups to make ends meet or access the same opportunities as others. Race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability status, and other factors can all impact an individual's likelihood to be able to get a well-paying job, buy a home, or get out of debt. A big part of Living United is recognizing the opportunities and privileges that we've each been afforded and using the power we have been given to speak up for others.
When we all come together, show up for one another, care for one another and strive forward together, that’s when we truly Live United.