Archive for Friday, September 20, 2013

United Way campaign kickoff spreads message of hope

Guest speaker Shane Lopez, a professor in the Kansas University School of Business, is introduced by Amy Kelly, board president for the United Way of Douglas County, during the United Way's kickoff event for its 2013 campaign on Tuesday at Theatre Lawrence.

Guest speaker Shane Lopez, a professor in the Kansas University School of Business, is introduced by Amy Kelly, board president for the United Way of Douglas County, during the United Way's kickoff event for its 2013 campaign on Tuesday at Theatre Lawrence.

September 20, 2013

Spread hope if you got it.

That was the message of the United Way of Douglas County's annual kickoff event Tuesday: that people in the community who have an abundance of it should share it with those who don't.

"When you have a high-hope mindset, anything is possible," said Amy Kelly, board president for United Way of Douglas County, in front of about 170 people at Theatre Lawrence, where attendees enjoyed a sneak preview of the musical "Footloose."

The local United Way also announced that it hopes to raise $1.8 million by Dec. 31 in order to support its 29 community partners, social service agencies that aim to meet its goals of bettering education, health and self-sufficiency in Douglas County. The campaign has so far raised more than $300,000, including $223,000 from its "pacesetter" organizations.

"I think deep down you have to believe that you're really fortunate because of where you are and that maybe there's a blessing you have that you can share with someone else who's in not quite as good of shape," said Mark Buhler, who is co-chairing this year's campaign with his wife, Marsha.

Speaker Shane Lopez, a professor of business at Kansas University and a leading researcher in the role hope plays in people's lives, said while working for Gallup he learned there are two main things that just about everyone in the world wants: a good job and a happy family.

What often gets them there is having hope, which is what the United Way provides, he said. Lopez cited studies that found that hope leads to a 12 percent bump in school outcomes, or, in other words, "Hope is worth a letter grade." He also said that it makes people more productive at work, by a matter of 14 percent, or about a day a week.

But hope isn't related to IQ or income, Lopez said; rather, it's an "equal opportunity resource." The problem is, only half of Americans have it.

"Those who have hope have the responsibility to share that spare hope," he remarked. "Hope is contagious."

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