Your gift matters

In the past two years, I’ve shared my thoughts, advice and stories on living healthy, living happy and living with purpose. I have enjoyed hearing back from many readers on how my columns have impacted your mindset and your life. My message this weekend is different, but urgent. Will you help support a healthy community?

As you may know, I’m a local business owner, wife and mom. My husband Jeff and I are also the chairpersons for the United Way campaign. Let me tell you why.

We moved to this community 13 years ago and are proud to call it home. Our kids are in school here, we own a business here, we are homeowners here and we feel called to give back here. We are entrenched in the rich history and promising future of our region through Jeff’s role at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. We care about the present condition and future growth of our new hometown. When a segment of our community is weakened, or struggling, it impacts all of us. I know you agree.

I believe in building a happier, healthier community. I have personally met with the dedicated directors and caring employees of local agencies who receive vital funding from the United Way. I have seen the need. I have seen their work. It is great.

We need your help. Let’s help a young boy who is struggling in school. Let’s help a working dad who is fighting substance abuse. Let’s help a proud grandfather who is hungry. Let’s help an aging mom who is showing early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Let’s take off our blinders and help. When you give, you receive. You receive joy, peace of mind and feelings of purpose. Your gift matters.

We all want to live in a safe community where people are happy, healthy and well cared for. We all want to live in a thriving community where we can raise children and grow old ourselves. We all want that, so we all must help. Will you join us?

Your gift creates success stories. Here is one moving testimonial directly from Shelter Inc.

“A young woman came to our agency with two small children after enduring years of physical and verbal abuse by her husband. She was pregnant with her third child. She finally decided to end the abusive relationship when her youngest child was diagnosed with leukemia. She decided that she had to focus on the health of her children and just couldn’t make any more excuses for her husband’s behavior. At the time, she was not employed and had no income. The woman and her children were homeless, and came to us with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a dilapidated vehicle.

After her two years of Shelter, Inc. services, the young woman’s outlook is now bright and full of hope. She has welcomed a healthy baby into her life. Her son is finished with chemo and, so far, is cancer free and growing like a healthy six-year old. The oldest child has blossomed at school. And most impressively, she has completed all her requirements to begin a local RN program and has become a licensed LPN in the meantime. Her dream is to work in the pediatric oncology department at the University of Michigan, where her son was treated.

With the support of Shelter, Inc. staff, she carried a full load of college classes, filed for and completed her divorce, spent countless hours in the court system, helped her child navigate treatment for his cancer, and cared for three small children. Also, our advocates assisted her in obtaining a MSHDA housing voucher, so she can continue to work toward her goals without worrying about being homeless again. There is no doubt considering this woman’s determination that she will continue to reach each and every goal she sets for herself. She is truly a success story!”

Your hard earned money will help change a life of someone right here in our community, like this brave woman. All money stays local. Please join us in giving.

You can give by calling the United Way at 989-354-2221 or make a donation through the Community Foundation’s website. www.cfnem.org Click on the online giving button, then click on the funds, click the United Way of Northeast Michigan Endowment fund, then hit next. It will take you right through the whole process. Don’t wait. Do it today. Let’s kickoff this campaign with a bang and show our community that we are stronger together.

Trina Gray is the owner of Bay Athletic Club, a mother of two, a national presenter on fitness and wellness and a change agent in the community. Her wellness column appears monthly.