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A Letter From Antoinette Hampton

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

~Margaret Mead

March is here and with it the promise of spring and new beginnings.  In a few short weeks, trees will begin to bud, flowers will sprout and the days will begin to warm.  Everything around us is about to change from the cold and gloomy time that is winter to the sunny and blooming newness of spring.  Inside us we often feel the same, ready to discard the old and move forward to the fresh and new.     

Love is something else that is often associated with spring.  There are many different manifestations of this concept including romantic love, parental love, and love for siblings or close friends.    For those of us who believe, there is God’s love, described as infinite and surpassing all understanding.  There is also love of others, being there for people who need us and valuing each person’s worth and dignity.

We know that loving others is something we are taught to do but this is not always an easy task.  Life has a way of keeping us in our own personal silos, caught up in our day to day responsibilities and focused on our loved ones and personal needs.  Add to this the constant stream of negativity we hear in the news, in our politics and even from some of the people we interact with and it is not surprising that we have become insular, guarded and inwardly focused.  It is much easier to shut out that which is not directly impacting us in the safety of our own bubble. 

In the past few years, our society has definitely become more tribal.  We are looking at the world through the lens of the tribe or group we most identify with and limiting our associations to those who share this same identity.  This often leads to rejecting other points of view and people who have experiences different from ours.   How often have we heard that those experiencing poverty or hardship caused this by making poor choices and it is their responsibility not ours to get out of the bad situation?  Even if we don’t subscribe to this way of thinking, often we view problems like poverty as too difficult to solve.  After all the government’s “war on poverty” has been in existence since the mid 1960’s and this is still a problem in our community as it is in many places across the country.

The Dayton region has a history of working together when it is struck with tragedy.  Look no further than the response to the 2019 tragedies of the Memorial Day tornado and the Oregon District shooting.  Those events demonstrated that despite our perceived differences, we have the ability to come together to face challenges.  United Way of the Greater Dayton Area understands that together we can make a real positive difference for people living right here.  This is why we work to improve lives by organizing the caring power of our communities in Montgomery, Greene and Preble counties.  We understand that it is our diverse experiences and ideas that collectively can help solve some of the most pressing issues we face.  Utilizing the time, talent and treasure of thousands of our citizens is the only way we can effectively bring about long lasting positive change to our community. 

As leaders we know the importance of having the right people to move toward the realization of a goal.  I ask you to contemplate the idea of servant leadership, with a focus on serving the community by focusing on how best to help lift up and develop others.  By helping to empower those in need, we lift up the entire community, benefiting everyone.   Just imagine our community coming together around this work not just when tragedy strikes but every day to make things better.  That is love for others in action and it is a powerful tool against any health or human service issue. 

Spring is almost here and it is a great time for fresh beginnings for us and for our community.  We have an opportunity to experience our own rebirth of spirit by giving of ourselves to help make a real positive difference in the lives of others.  It is true that tomorrow’s flowers bloom because of today’s seeds.  Let’s plant some now together so positive hope and change can continue to bloom in the Dayton region.

Antoinette L. Hampton, MBA, CFRE

Vice President, Resource Development

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