According to the State of Caring Index nationally and in Pennsylvania, there is good news to celebrate and be thankful for this holiday season. The percentage of adults who volunteer continues to increase, as does financial support to nonprofit groups and median household income.
On another positive note, the infant mortality rate is dropping.
However, every story seems to have a downside, In Pennsylvania, reflecting a nationwide trend, those residents below the poverty level have increased; the gap between the top and bottom fifths of income earners has increased and the percentage of teen-age high school dropouts has climbed. What's more, while more adults are volunteering, the average time they do so is declining.
It is obvious that our nation and our state are at once on the brink of prosperity and despair in this tale of dual social pictures. We have huge problems, yet a great capacity to help create solutions for these problems.
United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, like United Way organizations around the country, brings together all corners of the community - business, government and nonprofit agencies - to build healthier communities and foster social well-being.
We recognize that we must do more. We are committed to being even more focused and strategic in improving the quality of life in this region. In a few weeks, we will issue our local state of caring index and three "blueprints" or plans for how we will address our community's most essential human-service issues.
We will detail strategies for developing financial resources, mobilizing volunteers and building the capacity of agencies to invest in our children; build adult independence and promote healthy living.
We will look at our progress and how we compare to other communities.
Our community has a long history of giving and caring. I am confident we will add to this tradition and continue to strengthen the communities we share.