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In the Know: Make a difference any way you can

The late Jennie Hevern helped set up a mobile food drop for a United Way campaign video. Hevern, who passed away on March 17, 2017, was passionate about the food drop and was the inspiration for the program. (Contributed)

What does it mean to Live United?

As you begin to think about what this means to you, a visual that comes to mind could be of a T-shirt or possibly of people holding hands — but what are those people holding hands for? They are the individuals, businesses, nonprofits and elected officials who live in our community who have come together for the common purpose of making our community a place where we support each other to be the best that we can be.

The community in which we live is an extension of our family. We are surrounded by people that we care about from the moment we wake up in the morning through every aspect of our day until we settle in for the night. We get up each morning and look outside to the beauty of the lakes area and can see all that nature has to offer. We interact with co-workers, neighbors, classmates, business members and other community members throughout the day's activities. We are reminded of the many things that we are so thankful for. We celebrate with each other when dreams come to fruition and we comfort one another when we are faced by challenges in the same way that we do in our families.

I have observed the amazing generosity and kindness that the people in this extended family (our community) have demonstrated and shared with one another. This kindness and generosity is apparent through the simple exchange of a friendly greeting, the extra time taken to listen to someone in need, the gift of time shared with someone who is lonely and the list goes on and on.

Beyond the selfless acts of compassion are the financial gifts that are so generously given to support our communities' most pressing needs. The amazing work of nonprofits that focus their efforts on addressing daily problems are made possible through the support of each of you. When we lend a helping hand to someone else to lift them up in their time of need, we in turn create a better place for each of us to live. It is when we live united that we can not only make a difference, but make a lasting impact. I am thankful for the community in which I live and work and for the goodwill to fellow members that is evident in so many ways.

I encourage you to watch for these examples of kindness and seek out opportunities to make a difference in each day in any way that you can. The week of November 6-10 will be a week of kindness highlighted across United Ways of Minnesota. Check out our Facebook page to find out how to get involved. Other opportunities coming up include United Way mobile food drops and community coat collection and distribution in Douglas and Pope counties as well as our Adopt a Family and gift distribution programs. Learn more about these and other opportunities at

United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in our community. These are the building blocks for a good life — a quality education that leads to a stable job, enough income to support a family through retirement and good health. We do this by holding an annual campaign to raise dollars to support 26 local agencies and our 12 Community Impact programs that are offered right here in Douglas and Pope counties.

We invite you to join us in making a difference. Together we can inspire hope and create opportunities for a better tomorrow. At United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties, we believe that when we bring people together, great things will happen!

Jen Jabas is the executive director of the United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties. "In the Know" is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.