By Nat Shook, United Way of South Central Illinois Executive Director
The greatest joy of being part of the United Way of South Central team is seeing first hand the grace and resiliency of a community united — from our tireless volunteers, our generous donors, our committed staff, and our extraordinary Board of Trustees to our corporate and non-profit partners, policymakers, and the families and individuals we are privileged to serve. This past year has once again called upon all of us to reach out our hearts and our hands and find what truly unites us — a vibrant community where every community member can prosper.
I have stood in awe watching the parents at our Pop-up in the Park events celebrate as their children participate in the bi-monthly programs, hearing our 211 Community Navigators respond to over 10,000 requests for help, working alongside volunteers to distribute food and hope, celebrating with our community at our annual Food Truck Festival, listening and learning to bold journeys in brave spaces, and witnessing so many other countless stories of hope.
What a year it has been.
I am deeply grateful, as always, for the courage and commitment of our Board of Trustees, led last year by Andrew Thomson. At a time when the world changed in front of our eyes, the needs of our community multiplied, and hope wore thin, Andrew’s steadfast leadership and unwavering commitment to our mission was a port in the storm. His legacy will be felt in our community for years to come.
It is also truly an honor to welcome our new Board President, Shelly Keeneth, a longtime resident and community leader in Mt. Vernon. I cannot wait to see what this next chapter of our story brings.
As we begin celebrating 40 years, it is clear United Way of South Central’s story is our community’s story. We are excited to continue writing that story with you.