I remember where I was when I decided it was time to make a career change. I was sitting on the beach in February in one of those lounge chairs that sink into the sand, leaving those red band marks on your legs. My husband was beside me, sharing in my pure relaxation and happiness. We had spent the past five days with our kids on vacation, enjoying our time together and cherishing these moments we were creating that we worked so hard and waited so long for – our first official family vacation.

“I just want to make a difference,” I told him. “I want to have my work really mean something. I want to be an example to our kids and I want them to see me work really hard at making a change in our community.”

And just like that, I threw it out in the universe.

The universe answered.

Fast-forward a few weeks later when I walked into the United Way office in McHenry. I had come across a social media post that shared United Way of Greater McHenry County was looking for someone with a marketing background to help create awareness of their mission and engage the community. It was a perfect fit for me.

I had a little bit of an idea of what United Way of Greater McHenry County worked to accomplish, but the more I researched and talked to people, the more I learned.

Did you know that this amazing organization has been around for 50 years in McHenry County and helps one out of every three people here? That’s astounding!

Did you know that instead of raising funds for just one organization, you are helping to raise funds for 27 local nonprofits?

How about the fact that dozens of volunteer community members get together once a year at the McHenry office and decide how those donations are spent? Which means fellow business owners, local citizens and your neighbors are making the decisions on the needs of our community.

Or that the funds raised go directly to these local nonprofits for specific programs that focus on health, education or independence?

These facts had my eyes and ears open and I was captivated. As a mom raising two little kids, I’m forced to become more aware of the community I choose to live in. The needs in McHenry County are evident and I am ready to help make a difference. I am excited to share with you each month all the wonderful things that United Way of Greater McHenry County and these 27 nonprofits are doing to change the community for the better. My hope is maybe I will inspire you to become part of that equation as well.

Two months ago, at the time I was interviewing for the position at United Way, I heard part of a commencement speech that actor Jim Carrey had given at Maharishi University of Management in 2014. It’s a fantastic speech in its entirety and worth a listen if you haven’t already. His inspiring words stuck with me. The kind that when you hear them, you feel like they were meant for you to hear at that point in your life. Almost like an Oprah “Aha!” moment.  Carrey spoke in a jovial but serious tone: “How will you serve the world? What do they need that your talent can provide? The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is.” Profound!

So I ask you, how will you serve the world? What do they need that your talent can provide?

Heather Arnold is marketing manager of the United Way of Greater McHenry County. For questions about United Way or to learn how to contribute, email her at harnold@uwmchenry.org

Article sourced from Northwest Herald.