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Published: Monday, 12/31/2012

United Way executive makes case for year-round giving

Sharing skills, resources benefits soul, outgoing interim CEO says

BY TK BARGER
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR
'Giving is a very personal decision,' says Jane Moore, interim president and  CEO  of the United Way of Greater Toledo. 'Giving is a very personal decision,' says Jane Moore, interim president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Toledo.
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During the holiday season, many people think about giving. They might volunteer with an organization that feeds the hungry, or give money to charity, or lend their voice to a cause they affirm as worth supporting.

Then the year draws to a close. Some might make a new year’s resolution to keep giving. Others consider tithing to their place of worship.

With resolutions and continued giving in mind, The Blade spoke with Jane Moore, who will complete her assignment as interim president and chief executive officer of United Way of Greater Toledo when Karen Mathison takes the helm Jan. 7. Ms. Moore, who has been with Toledo’s United Way for more than 35 years, will return to her previous position as executive vice president. Ms. Moore shared her thoughts about giving through the year.

“Giving is a very personal decision, and rather than giving, I like to think of it in terms of sharing,” Ms. Moore said. “Because if I give it’s a one-way transaction, but if I’m sharing, I'm getting something out of it myself, too. So whether it’s my time, my money, my voice, I’m sharing with somebody, some people, some organization.”

R.T. Kendall, a pastor and author of the book Tithing: A Call to Serious Biblical Giving (Lamplighter Books), wrote, “If we give cheerfully, we will be built up in the faith to the extent that we give because it is right, not because it pays.” He identifies a tithe as 10 percent of income — of gross salary or wages, unless the person is in business for herself or himself; then it’s 10 percent of the person’s net income.

Regarding tithing, Ms. Moore said, “Some people give way more than 10 percent and others, because of circumstances, who would really love to [tithe], can’t, because of medical issues or children’s issues or something. If they want to do charitable giving beyond that, it’s beyond the church and I think people who are firmly grounded in a spiritual way want to share what they have. Sometimes people make sacrifices to do that, and that’s part of that personal decision. If the church is your Number One [place to give], then that’s Number One, and if you can give to number two and three, great, and if you can’t right now, maybe in the future you can."

Pastor Kendall maintains that “If every professing Christian would tithe, every congregation would be free of financial worries and could begin truly to be ‘the salt of the earth’ .... He also wrote that “tithing does something for you spiritually.”

How does a person decide where to share donations or where to volunteer, or whether to tithe? “People first have to think about what’s important to them,” Ms. Moore said, “and all of us have limited resources, so we have to consider where you really believe you can achieve the things that most match your values. If that’s in environmental or animal welfare, human services, community change, spiritual change, that’s a very personal decision. [Choosing a charity] is kind of where your heart and your head know, and where your gift can make a difference.”

Of course, Ms. Moore makes a plug for United Way as a charitable organization. “There’s how many nonprofits in the United States, bazillions, and the opportunities for sharing are limitless. I think some of the beauty of United Way is, and it’s kept me so passionate about it for so very long, United Way is able to match someone who’s looking for a way to express their passion for the community to an issue that needs somebody’s help — whether that is time, voice, or money. Who else can provide the range of opportunity for institutions or individuals to match their passion with their wallet, their clock, and their voice?"

United Way will help volunteers find a place to share their time.

“Our United Way 211 [telephone line] is 24-hour, 24/7 information referral, but it also can be the link to volunteer opportunities. People go on our Web site, there’s a volunteer section and you can click if you are looking for something in your particular geographic area or you want to do something with seniors or children or animals or whatever. We try to direct them to our work, but if you want to volunteer for the Metroparks [which are not supported by United Way], we want you to volunteer for the Metroparks because the Metroparks contribute to the well-being of all of us. Bottom line, if you want to volunteer for something that isn’t really our focus, yes, we’re going to connect you to a volunteer opportunity” outside of United Way, Ms. Moore said.

United Way’s focus is on seeing that students graduate.

“That’s not about their academics only," Ms. Moore said. “You know, a kid can’t learn if he’s hungry, a kid can’t learn if he doesn’t know where he’ll sleep tonight, a kid can't learn if he’s worried about his mom who’s home sick, so all of those things and education, income, and health have to wrap together. Our job is to wrap things around those families and kids so they can be focused on school and be successful and stay in school.”

Ms. Moore urges people to consider that the need continues throughout the year. “[Giving] is really important for people in the holiday time,” Ms. Moore said.

“The spirit moves many of us to do things, and that’s wonderful and it’s very much appreciated by [United Way] as well as many other charities and churches and organizations, but people are hungry in March and children need new shoes in July and the food pantries need food in August,” she said.

“If we could still do what moves us in the holiday spirit to do something at Christmas, but consider tempering that. People want to volunteer [during holidays] and get their families involved, and that’s great, and the shelters and the soup kitchens are overwhelmed with volunteers — and then in April they don’t have those volunteers that they could still use. So if I gave 40 hours over the holidays, maybe I could give 40 hours over six months and help that organization more in the lean times. Or if I gave $600 at the holidays, maybe if I waited and gave some of that in the summertime when food donations are down, those pantries would be restocked. If people could think about what they’d be able to [give] in terms of time and money year-round, let that organization know so they can appreciate and engage you in the work that they’re doing.”

Contact TK Barger at: tkbarger@theblade.com or 419-724-6278.



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