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John McMillin: Income, health, education, linked to quality of life

John McMillin • Updated Jul 18, 2017 at 6:00 PM

Education, financial stability and health, these are the building blocks of a successful life. United Way of Wilson County and the Upper Cumberland believes everyone should have access to a quality education, a family sustaining income and good health, and we’re not alone. 

Education, financial stability and health are also the indicators by which thriving community development worldwide is accepted as a reliable measurement.

Locally, we further define these building blocks into four areas of impact within our United Way; they are education, income, health and rebuilding lives. Through our impact fund, we work to make sure people get the support services they need right now while simultaneously addressing the root causes of key issues – that’s how we create true community impact. 

We know that by improving education for all children, we’re setting them on the path to high school graduation and college success. We know that those children will go on to hold skilled jobs and be financially equipped to support their families.  In a like manner, we know that good health is directly linked to a successful life.

How do we know these things? According to calculations from the National Longitudinal Mortality Survey, among other studies, tracking people who are well educated and are more economically stable are more prone to live longer than less educated, poorer people. In fact, in one study, life expectancy at all ages was about 25 percent longer with people in the top 5 percent of income as compared to families of the bottom 5 percent.

For our United Way, we believe that preventative means are the most effective way of improving all of our lives. Think about it. The most effective means to obtain success is the benefit of a good, strong education. We are lucky to have wonderful educators and strong school systems in our service area. Still, there are roadblocks such as hunger, economic and social issues that are usually tied together that prevent students from doing their best.

Most of us have never been too hungry to concentrate or too stressed from family issues that made study nearly impossible. However, we have many students in this county alone that deal with these issues on a daily basis.

We realize that when we improve education, financial stability and health at a community level, we all benefit. Because of this, we depend on our donors’ generosity to help make such improvements. Our United Way works with more than 40 local programs that help local residents with everything from homework help, basic healthcare, a healthy meal, or help to get past a “rough patch” in life. We believe a hand up is always better than a hand out. Donors can help by considering a donation to either our general fund or to one of our four impact areas during this upcoming giving season. That’s what living united looks like in Wilson County and the 12 counties in our service area of the Upper Cumberland.

John McMillin is president of United Way of Wilson County and the Upper Cumberland. Email him at john@givetouwwc.org.

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