Speech from 2015 National County Leader of the Year, Jonathan Sweet, given on July 23, 2015 at the United Way CEO Breakfast

Good Morning, The people in this room are leaders from across our community who have the expertise, prowess, leadership and knowledge to help create real, lasting change. I am here today to speak to you about how your top down support of United Way of Southwest Virginia can impact the entirety of the Twin County area. To give, to advocate and to volunteer are the three keys to success for United Way.

Whether you are a part of industry, healthcare, professional services, media, government….your leadership within your organization and community is what is needed to make real change happen. Dollars matter yes, but without advocates for United Way, those dollars won’t come.

United Way of Southwest Virginia improves the lives of individuals and families by uniting people and organizations that have the will, expertise and resources to create measurable results that will make a lasting impact in our community.

Envision a world where every community is a strong one, with jobs that pay a livable wage, good schools and a healthy environment. Today’s United Way CEO Breakfast was created with this same vision in mind, to help strengthen the Twin Counties. The goal for today is to engage you. It is people and organizations that come up with the innovative solutions that transform that vision into a reality.

Find what motivates you. The support the United Way gives our community helps to cultivate the next generation of workforce, leaders, volunteers, and citizens. If it’s not a philanthropic itch you wish to scratch, then simply look to find what ROI you or your company can enjoy from supporting the mission of the United Way. I look at it personally as the right thing to do to help foster a healthy community in which I love and enjoy; however, we all have bottom lines to consider and must also take a business perspective when evaluating how we spend and prioritize our limited time and resources. From a business case, I consider advancing the cause of the United Way as effectively paying it forward. It’s our current generations investing in the future of our workforce through quality education, good health and financial stability. The yield of these investments in human capital will effectively be responsible for carrying on manufacturing tradition and the delivery of services necessary to serve our citizens and fuel our economy; for developing future volunteers that makes up the hands and feet of our community; promoting the entrepreneur spirit that is the heart of the new economy; setting the example for our future leaders, and proactively nurturing the next generation of contributing members of our community.

United Way of Southwest Virginia now serves 15 localities; however, it is important to note that 100% of all funds donated from within the Twin County area to United Way of Southwest Virginia stay here in the Twin Counties. These are the funds that allow the critical needs of our community to be met and are aiding in the creation of sustainable, lasting change. Among the 9 agencies located in the Twin County area that the United Way of Southwest Virginia funded in 2014, more than 5,000 local lives were improved.

The United Way’s collaborative partnerships with our local nonprofit agencies shows not only their investment in the most effective programs and services in our area, but also their mission to reach the root cause of many complex social issues and work towards solving them. Reaching that root cause is what we trust will bring about the meaningful and lasting change that will insure a strong future for this worthy community.

The United Way focuses on the building blocks of a good life – a quality education, financial stability for individuals and families, and good health. Your top down support within your organization is necessary to identify develop and implement solutions to our region’s most pressing challenges. By giving, advocating and volunteering, you have the opportunity to LIVE UNTED. I stand before you today not only as a donor to United Way but as an advocate and volunteer as well. I invite you to bring the same leadership skills, passion and community-mindedness that you utilize on a daily basis within your organizations, to become an advocate for the United Way of Southwest Virginia. By doing so, you will help to create and innovate the very vision that we are promoting, and you too can become a part of the meaningful and lasting change and be a part of the legacy of this worthy community.

Again, find what motivates you, pay it forward, and Live United.

Thank you