Why We Campaign

It’s that time of the year again. The air turns crisp, football is everywhere, and the United Way Campaign is in full force. September marks many beginnings, but for us, it’s the unveiling of what we’ve been working hard to bring together for the first half of the year. The annual campaign truly begins on January 1, but the campaign season swells with excitement in September, bringing hundreds of partners, donors, and volunteers together to create something really special. Our “super bowl” if you will.


Why do we do it? Easy. To fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in our community. We say this time and time again, but if you break that down, you get right to the heart of humanity. By increasing access to educational programming that can flip the switch of a struggling student, creating an even more secure path to graduation and future success. By ensuring that adults living with disabilities have homes that allow them to grow and live life with less difficulty, gaining some independence that they deserve. By offering sliding fee scales at childcare centers, we remove barriers that allow parents to continue working and providing for their young families.


Everyone deserves to reach their full human potential. This is why we exist. To improve the lives of our neighbors by mobilizing the caring power of our community. We connect those willing to give generously with local programs that are impacting lives every single day. Our annual campaign creates life-changing moments through needed services and programs. Read on to see how your dollars are at work in propelling individuals forward.


Barbara has lived in Ames for more than 50 years. For the past few years she has been experiencing short-term memory loss caused by a series of strokes. As routine tasks became more difficult, Barbara became more anxious, depressed, and withdrawn. At Heartland Senior Service’s Adult Day Center, Barbara is able to connect with others, participate in activities, get physical exercise, and engage in social skills. When asked about her favorite part of going to Heartland, Barbara didn’t take long to answer. “It’s the people, they are all so nice and it’s good to see them.”


It has been a year of transformation for Mary, a mother of two young children. It began with a breakdown in her relationship with her husband, forcing Mary to leave with nothing but clothes and some toys for her children. They briefly stayed with relatives, but eventually the young family found themselves with nowhere to live. Seeking safety, Mary contacted The Bridge Home and was soon provided an apartment through the transitional housing program. As part of the program, Mary received everyday essentials such as basic housewares, furnishings, and grocery vouchers. The Bridge Home then partnered Mary with Workforce Solutions, who gave her the chance to join the Women That Work class. She learned valuable skills and soon saw the positive impacts they had on her life. She has since completed the course and now works full-time with benefits. In February, Mary and her kids moved into a place of their own. With her children as her biggest inspiration, Mary is busy making plans for the future. “I want to have a career. I want something that’s permanent.”


Chris was in the early stages of recovery from meth addiction and was receiving substance use counseling, mental health therapy, and psychiatric services at YSS when COVID-19 shut down offices statewide. In an effort to protect his aging parents with whom he lives, Chris was extremely isolated at the start of the pandemic. During this early period of social distancing, Chris, who suffers from anxiety and has a history of trauma, was in a panic and most at risk of relapse since he began working with the YSS team. Chris’s anxiety worsened and was barely functioning. Thankfully, all behavioral health services moved quickly to telehealth, which allowed Chris to maintain appointments with his treatment team online via Skype. The continuity of care was proven to be critical to Chris’s success. Not only has he not experienced a relapse, but Chris has been proactive in managing his physical and mental health. He has taken better care of himself by engaging in yoga and meditation, and has even made progress towards securing employment. With support, Chris has a bright future ahead.


These stories are from real people, right in our own community. When giving to United Way, funded programs can meet the needs of our neighbors facing challenges so they don’t have to do it alone. This is our why, and we couldn’t do it without you. Please give, advocate, and volunteer for others, so everyone in Story County can have access to a great quality of life.