Around United Way, the phrase “We are big because we are small” is a common refrain.
It means that we are a successful global network because we stay true to the needs of each community. We understand their character, their challenges, and their opportunities. Those local connections have allowed us to grow into the world’s largest privately funded non-profit, serving individuals and families in more than 40 countries and territories.
We are always looking to expand our reach and model. From big countries like China to some of the smallest nations on Earth.
This past December, United Way Turks and Caicos Islands opened its doors. Turks and Caicos, an island chain in the Caribbean, was in the news in September 2017 after getting pummeled by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. As a result, an early focus of UWTCI has been rebuilding homes, particularly on the hard-hit island of South Caicos.
But the residents of Turks and Caicos Islands face the same challenges as any other community. Therefore, one of UWTCI’s biggest initiatives is improving children’s literacy. Under the leadership of Claudine Ewing, United Way launched reading programs like “Yes I Can Read” and began a summer program to help more young students improve their reading skills.
They also held a Read-a-Thon this spring, launched with a Superheroes-themed pep rally, that raised nearly $20,000. I can’t think of many better ways to get kids excited and bring students, volunteers, parents, and sponsors together. Learn more about United Way Turks and Caicos Islands on their website and on Facebook.
United Way Turks and Caicos Islands’ launch in December 2018 was attended by leaders from United Way Worldwide, The Waugh Family Foundation, and a cross-section of the islands’ business and civic leaders. This wide representation is important, as another key component of the United Way model is our ability to bring together leaders from government, business and non-profits to build sustainable solutions.
I am excited about the potential of United Ways, like one of our newest in Turks and Caicos Islands, that jumpstart energy in the community and tap into new resources. Community leaders and members in Turks and Caicos are hungry for new development and volunteer opportunities that make a real impact in people’s lives and show the results of their work.
That’s exactly what United Way does best, and it has allowed us to become a global difference-maker. I look forward to seeing more!