We caught up with Brad Peterson, Lead Director, Marketing and Communications at the United Way of Lancaster County to chat about mobilizing the community, reforming the health care system in Lancaster County, and the United Way’s move to a Collective Impact model. The United Way is the Lemon Street Market #GiveLocal partner for July and August. When customers opt to round up at the register, all proceeds will be donated to the United States of Lancaster County in order to support the fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community.
Describe the mission of the United Way of Lancaster County in 3 sentences or less.
United Way of Lancaster County’s mission is to mobilize the caring power of our community to achieve impactful, systemic social change within our community. In the simplest terms, it means United Way and our Community Impact Partners are focused on finding the root causes of issues, identifying the contributing factors to those issues, and then eliminating them, permanently.
How can Lancastrians commit to “thinking differently” and working together in order to improve the lives of this generation and the next?
Status quo isn’t good enough anymore. To truly move the needle on issues plaguing individuals and families we must change how we think and work. No single organization has the resources, knowledge or skills to fix the many challenges our neighbors are facing on a daily basis. United Way’s move to the Collective Impact model is the most effective way to mobilize across our County to create permanent solutions to the problems plaguing residents of the County. Change won’t happen alone. We must work collaboratively to fix our community’s most critical problems.
Why is it so important that 100% of individuals, children, and families have a medical home by 2025 (one of your Four Bold Goals)?
Someone once said to me, you can have many problems in life, but if you don’t have good health, you only have one problem. Having comprehensive, patient-centered health care for every Lancaster County resident should be a given, however more than 70,000 individuals in our County are uninsured and don’t have access to a doctor, dentist, or a mental health professional. United Way and our Community Impact Partners are leading the way to reform the health care system in Lancaster County, and we won’t stop working until everyone has access to this most basic need.
What does “Live United” look like here in Lancaster?
Helen Keller said “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Living United means we all fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community. We believe everyone has a role in building a better future for all and we invite everyone to help us shape community-wide change. We work in all corners of the County and connect with a wide array of nonprofit organizations, government entities, small businesses and large industry, educational institutions, faith based groups, interested individuals, and more. Our work is truly about the community; about bringing traditional and non-traditional resources to the same table to accomplish what none of us can do alone. By inspiring individuals to join us in the fight against Lancaster County’s social crises we can truly make a positive impact on the lives of our neighbors.
What United Way projects are in the works for this summer and fall?
United Way’s Days of Caring will take place Friday and Saturday, September 8 & 9. This is the largest single volunteer event in the County, with nearly 1,500 volunteers giving their time and talent last year to various projects. Our annual Community Impact Summit will take place September 13, with Mary Sellers, U.S. President of United Way Worldwide, and Mark Cabaj, President of From Here to There and an expert in the field of Collective Impact, on the program. We continue to advocate for United Way’s 2-1-1 to become a statewide service. Locally, our 2-1-1 center is available 24/7/365 to assist Lancaster County residents with health and human service needs by calling 2-1-1 or visit LiveUnitedLancaster.org/gethelp.
United Way’s VITA, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, program will begin recruiting volunteers in the fall to provide free tax prep services to low-income individuals and families. This program brought back more than $11.8 million in refunds in 2017! And of course, a new campaign season is in full swing as we ask everyone to join us in our fight to achieve our goals.
What is your favorite Lancaster healthy living initiative?
Tough question. Can I have two favorites?! I love the trails and parks that we have in Lancaster County. You’ll often find me on the Conewago Trail, Northwest Lancaster County Trail or taking advantage of one of the many parks. And here in the garden spot of PA, the fresh produce that is available to us is phenomenal. Nothing can top freshly picked strawberries, tomatoes, sweet corn and the many other staples grown right here on our farmland.
By shopping at Lemon Street Market, customers are directly supporting more than 75 local farmers and vendors, and even more through local distributors like Lancaster Farm Fresh, Oasis, and Four Seasons. Help us to contribute even more to our community by choosing to #GiveLocal when you check out at Lemon Street Market. Shoppers can elect to “round up” their purchases to the nearest dollar when they check out or choose to increase their at-the-register donation by adding to their round up value.