For WaTasha Barnes, Executive Director of the YWCA of Muncie, United Way is personal.
"As an advocate, community leader, and executive director for a nonprofit supported by United Way, I see firsthand the impact the organization has in our community," said Barnes. "The work United Way does, particularly in social services, is essential. Without the assistance of UWDC, many programs and organizations would be limited in the services that they are able to provide."
In her work, Barnes sees the devastating effects and challenges that homelessness, economic hardship, illiteracy, and health needs present.
"I know that United Way is working diligently to help us address these important issues," said Barnes.
As a member of the 2017 United Way Campaign Executive Committee, Barnes looks forward to the impact UWDC will make on the work that is yet to be done in this community.
"I want to see improvements in the areas of health, education, child literacy, and financial stability for individuals in our community. I know that by giving to United Way, we do more than provide temporary fixes; we will be able to create lasting change in our community. We can do this by bringing people and organizations together, creating innovative solutions, and making a collective impact on thousands of lives every year, right here.”
For Barnes, a Muncie native, giving back has been a way of life. Lessons she learned as a child set her course and nurtured her servant spirit.
"I give because I was taught to growing up," she said. "I remember spending time at the church organizing the food pantry, walking the community and handing out flyers, and listening to my grandmother and Miss Vivian Conley talk about the importance of serving the community, particularly the African American community. I watched my mother go to the nursing home every Tuesday morning to sing to the elderly and to the jail every Tuesday evening to facilitate bible studies with the female inmates. Once I was of age, I accompanied her."
United Way of Delaware County is dedicated to tackling generational poverty by working to ensure all the county’s third graders are up to standard reading levels by 2024. Out of 240 communities across the country, Delaware County is one of only 15 showing significant progress in meeting that goal.
Barnes says her vision is to see a community with the capacity and resources to serve those who need it most.
"Delaware County is my community; it's the place I call home. I love it here," she said. "This is truly a great community. We support each other, take care of each other, invest our resources to meet community needs, and we care. Placing service above self was instilled in me at a young age, and I still walk in that today.”