How can you LIVE UNITED this spring?

As I travel throughout our community meeting people, one thing often comes up as a theme – “How can I get involved and make a difference?” I think that there are several reasons why people ask this, but primarily it comes down to either not knowing what the opportunities are to get involved or not believing that getting involved will really help our community to be a better place. So, this month, I thought that I’d devote a little bit of time to a few ways in which people can get involved as well as a few tools that people can use on an ongoing basis to stay involved.

Regarding getting involved, I would like to highlight three upcoming United Way events that can help to make an impactful difference in our community. The first of these is our “Community Farming Day of Caring,” which takes place on April 25. The purpose of this event is to support the “ReGenerative Roots Community Farm” that is being developed at Sullivan Farm. A big reason why we have chosen to support this initiative is that a section of the community farm will be dedicated for use by the “urban farmers” of Grow Nashua, which has been working to provide people with the means of becoming food sustainable. With support from a wide variety of partners who have helped with financial and in-kind contributions, along with about 100 volunteers, we will be moving dirt, digging trenches, building planting beds, etc. to support the launch of this effort. We would like to especially thank our friends from P&L Landscaping for digging the many, many post holes, the Dirt Doctors for giving us an amazing deal on the soil, Bobby from Sullivan Farm for providing space and helping to till the soil and Keller Williams Realty for helping with the installation of the fencing to keep the critters out. By participating in this event, you directly effect the ability of people to feed themselves in a healthy way. This is the epitome of the adage about giving a person a fishing pole so they can fish on their own. I should also mention that the event will be fun, and it is family friendly, taking place in the middle of school vacation week!

The next event where you can personally make a big difference is the United Way Community Baby Shower, which will take place on May 3. This event, in its second year, focuses on bringing resources to expecting and new at-risk moms and dads. The event is part resource fair, with many community partners like Southern New Hampshire Health, Nashua Family Chiropractic, Southern New Hampshire Services and the Public Health Department, part nice activities, like a family photo booth from Studio Mark Emile and a Born Learning Trail from United Way and part baby shower boutique, with items donated by businesses and individuals in the community. There also will be a community supper for all the volunteers and participants, with support from Hannaford, SubZero Ice Cream, Giorgio’s, Chick-fil-A, Aldi’s, and Great Harvest Bread Co. You can help by volunteering at the event, referring a family to one of our participating agencies to come to the event or donating items or funds for the baby boutique. You will truly make a difference by helping our new moms and dads get a “smart start” in life with their newborns.

Looking a little bit further out is our 2nd annual LIVE UNITED Over the Edge Event, which takes place on June 28-29. During this event, I personally will be joining more than 100 other brave souls, supporting about 20 different nonprofits in the thrilling prospect of rappelling down the 24 story Brady Sullivan Tower at 1000 Elm St. in Manchester. This year, we will be joined by Jamie Staton of WMUR, Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Gov. Chris Sununu, as well as representatives from many nonprofits, including Revive Recovery, Adult Learning Center, the Youth Council, Girls Incorporated and others. Each of the participants supports one of the organizations, and the funds they raise support that organization in its work. This is a one-of-a-kind collaboration that, in my opinion, is uniquely “Granite State” in its focus on getting things done together. You can get involved by joining one of the teams and rappelling, participating on event day as a volunteer or donating to one of the brave souls going Over the Edge (feel free to support me if you want, in my efforts to raise money to help bring an end to youth homelessness in our community). There also are great sponsorships available for businesses wishing to be supportive.

The best and easiest way to learn about any of these events is to visit the “Events” tab on our website at www.UnitedWayNashua.org, which brings me to my next topic, how to learn more about other events and stay connected. I will summarize this with three very easy approaches. First, we have developed a Facebook Page called “Greater Nashua Community Connections” that is exclusively dedicated to giving nonprofits a space to promote their events and opportunities for the public to learn more. Since launching less than a year ago, there are now more than 700 people on the page and daily posts, so it’s an easy way to see what’s going on. Second, we now host a weekly radio show, also called “Community Connections,” which airs live each Monday morning on WSMN 1590 AM from 9-10 a.m. Every week, I interview two different nonprofits about what they do, why it matters and how people from the community can get involved. We are grateful for the support of Etchstone Properties Inc. in helping bring this show to the air. Lastly, about six months ago, we launched, in partnership with The (Nashua) Telegraph, a new web portal for volunteering where nonprofits can post their opportunities and members of the community can learn more and sign right up. It is called www.VolunteerGreaterNashua.org and is a very easy way to get involved.

It is our hope, with all these great events and ways to stay connected that, collectively, we will give the community many different opportunities to give back. We believe that “GREAT THINGS HAPPEN WHEN WE LIVE UNITED” and are hoping to see you soon!

Mike Apfelberg is president of the United Way of Greater Nashua.