Good Sunday morning, everyone! A woman, a priest, two ministers and a rabbi walked into a restaurant …

That sounds like a beginning of a good joke doesn’t it? I don’t know where they met for the first time, but the gathering of these five people was the beginning of the United Way.

In 1887, Frances Wisebart Jacobs, the Rev. Myron W. Reed, Msgr. William J. O’Ryan, Dean H. Martyn Hart and Rabbi William S. Friedman put their heads together to plan the first united campaign for 10 health and welfare agencies in Denver, Colorado.

That year, Denver raised $21,700 and created a movement that would spread throughout the country to become the United Way.

More than 132 years later, United Way still is focused on mobilizing the caring power of the communities and making a difference in people’s lives.

Our campaign locally kicked off at the first of September. We created a committee of nine men and women who looked at what worked in the past years that we aren’t doing now as well as picking the Campaign Chairs.

This year Chad Hays, executive director of Crosspoint Human Services, and Mary Surprenant, co-owner of Re/Max Ultimate, were picked and agreed to co-chair our campaign.

Besides that, our local United Way, like a lot of thriving United Ways, decided to bring back what is called a Campaign Cabinet. This cabinet brings numerous individuals together to do the work it takes to get our United Way reinvigorated. More boots on the ground, as I say, will always bring in better results.

As we had in past years, our goal is staying at $600,000 and we are determined to get there.

We have an incentive if you are considering giving for the first time and one if you increase your donation from the previous year. Of course, you will again have the chance to win a new car from Carmack Car Capitol or $20,0000 in cash.

The main incentive, though, is to help your neighbor, co-worker, friend or family member. You might be surprised who has received help through one of our partner agencies or dialed 2-1-1 for help. Someone’s child received a Dolly Parton Imagination Library book in the mail today and it has excited a child to want to see what stories and information are in other books, which kickstarted their desire to learn.

Maybe someone wouldn’t have been able to afford his or her prescriptions if it weren’t for our FamilyWize Prescription Discount cards.

We live in a caring community. Even when you hear negative comments from area residents, they are really saying tell me how to help our community improve lives and make our neighborhoods safer. We want the same thing, but we can’t continue to change lives without you.

Please consider donating this year. You can do that by coming by or calling for a pledge form or giving through our website,

Give. Advocate. Volunteer. Live United.

Sherri M. Askren is president of United Way of Danville Area, Inc., 28 W. North St., Danville, IL 61832. Phone: 442-3512

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