Be Heard, Be Counted: 3 actions you can take today to create change in your community

Published on September 13, 2020 in

As the world continues to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic and our nation grapples with a legacy of institutional bias and systemic racism which persists to this day, many of us wonder what we can do to make a difference.

As our President and CEO Dr. Darienne Hudson recently wrote, “even when faced with adversity there are opportunities to create real, lasting change.” 

At United Way for Southeastern Michigan, advocating for real systemic change has been part of our mission for more than 100 years. We know that being civically engaged is an essential part of strong, resilient communities where families prosper, and children can thrive. That’s why we work to bring community stakeholders together with elected officials to work toward developing solutions to our communities’ toughest problems.  

Real, lasting change begins with each of us taking action 

It’s surprisingly easy to do something with the potential to change our communities for the better. Start by taking these three simple steps this fall. 

Be counted – Fill out your 2020 Census by Sept. 30 at My2020Census.Gov

Once every 10 years, every American is given an opportunity to shape the future through one simple action: Completing the census. 

The resulting data is used to influence decisions that have a real impact on each of us including how federal and state funds are distributed between communities, and the resources that support food assistance, head start, children’s health programs, special education, free and reduced school meals, and so much more.   

This year, it is more important than ever to ensure your family is counted. With the country still reeling from the global pandemican accurate count can help to determine where resources are needed most.

The 2020 U.S. Census takes less than 15 minutes complete and brings in an estimated $1,800 to our state for each person who takes it. By filling out the census, you’re putting your community on the fastest path to recovery. 

Already filled out the Census? Volunteer to encourage others to do the same!  

Be Heard — Vote on Nov. 3

This fall, be sure to cast your ballot on Nov. 3 — whether in person or by voting no-reason absentee.

When we are civically engaged, united under one mission and using our voices, we can make a lasting impact.  And there is no form of civic engagement more important than casting your vote.  

Although 2020 is a presidential election year, voting is about more than partisan politics. It impacts everything from the investments we make in health care and roads to the quality of our schools. 

If you haven’t already registered to vote, you can register on the Michigan Secretary of State websiteIncrease your impact by encouraging others in your community to register as well, but don’t stop there; talk to your friends, family, coworkers and neighbors about the importance of voting. You can also share information about applying for absentee ballots or help them get to their polling locations. 

Lastly, you can support the right to vote by working at the polls on election day. Election inspectors help keep the polls running smoothly and are crucial to fair elections. Visit the Michigan SOS website to learn more and sign up.

Over the last 50 years, Michigan’s eligible voter turnout has never been higher than 65 percent in a single election. 

Voting is not just a right, its a responsibility—one that generations before us fought, marched, and protested for. This year, let’s honor those who dedicated their lives to ensuring each of us has the right to vote by shattering voter turnout records across the state.  

Speak Out 

Civil rights icon and Congressman John Lewis once said, When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have a moral obligation to say something; you have to do something. 

Change will require that we all heed his direction.  

It can be as simple as joining a local march for justice for those affected by police brutality or writing to your elected officials to encourage them to pass a COVID-19 Relief bill that will help the 44 percent of local families who are struggling to make ends meet.

“When you use your voice to bring attention to the ideas and causes that matter most to you, you empower others to do the same,” said Cassie Thierfelder, United Way Advocacy and Government Relations manager.

Together, we can build a stronger world today and for generations to come. 

For more ways to get involved, sign up for United Way advocacy alerts.