Published on November 11, 2020 in Advocate
By DARIENNE HUDSON, Ed.D.
President and CEO
United Way for Southeastern Michigan
Like so many of us, my mind is reeling in the wake of this grueling election. The tone of the presidential race — amidst the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing protests for social and racial justice, the escalating climate crisis, growing economic inequity, and many other issues of vital importance — has exposed every political and social fault line in our nation. The divisive rhetoric has been enough to make people wonder aloud if and how we can move forward. I’ve heard the question asked. I’m sure you have as well.
But the answers are simple. We will move forward — because we must. We will do so the only way we can: United.
At United Way, “Live United” isn’t a slogan — it’s a call to action that comes to life every day as people from every political stripe and walk of life give what they can, volunteer their time and lift up their voices together to help meet the needs of their struggling neighbors and build a better, stronger region for all of us.
Families across our region continue to struggle, and what we do now to support these families will demonstrate who we are as individuals, as a community and as a country.
Before COVID-19 hit, 43 percent of Michigan households struggled to meet their basic needs, according to United Way’s ALICE Report. We know the number has grown since then. Now, as winter approaches, the pandemic is surging, and we face a potential spike in homelessness, food insecurity and job loss.
We must prepare to meet the needs of struggling households while working to address the systemic reasons so many are living on the edge of crisis. We must continue to work to create a more equitable and racially just society. And we must commit to action for the betterment of our community.
In light of this, there is one clear conclusion — we have to stand united to help stabilize families, ensure every child has what they need to thrive, and enshrine justice, equity and access to opportunity as foundational to everything we do.
There are ample opportunities for action outside any electoral context for the betterment of our community. This means getting involved in tangible ways beyond election season. Donate; volunteer; speak up and speak out.
The election is over, but our work continues, and it has never been more important for us to come together for the betterment of all.
The only direction is forward. The only way is United.