Locals ‘Live United’ to help county

By: Leslie Bek

The health and well-being of a community begins with each individual—all sizes and all shapes. Many individuals within a community have basic needs that are not being met. Many individuals reach out or over to lend a hand. These individuals become connected, interdependent and united. An individual reaching out can influence the condition of all.
According to the United Way of Marquette County, that’s what it means to Live United. I like it.
Spreading the word about a healthy behavior like Live United can be called an old school method of social marketing. Until recent times, social marketing meant trying to inform and inspire people to carry out an action that serves a broader purpose. Traditional marketing efforts are aimed at motivating a person to buy a product or use a service. Therefore, in contrast to traditional marketing, social marketing is like selling a community concept rather than a widget. Today, the term “social marketing” often is related to using social networks on the Internet to communicate your message.Story
In all of my years working in the field of health promotion, I have never seen a box on a store shelf labeled “community health.” I would have bought it or at least put it on layaway. Community health is a way of life; its positive attributes have a way of giving that fills other boxes on the shelves at places such as the food pantry. To Live United means filling gasoline tanks so people can drive to medical appointments, and making accessible boxes of building materials and heating resources to warm places for shelter. It means providing basic needs.
It may not seem like it takes a social scientist (close to a rocket scientist) to determine our basic needs; however, it was done in 1943 by psychologist Abraham Maslow. His research has become a standard reference in the field of psychology called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
The theory is depicted by a pyramid. The baseline represents an individual’s basic needs: food, water, shelter, sleep and clothing. The second level is safety needs, then social needs, followed by esteem, self- actualization; the final the tip of the pyramid called self-transcendence, or as I call it, “really big thoughts.”
According to Maslow, we all start at the bottom tier and spend our lives working our way toward the tip based on many things along the way. It’s the “many things along the way” and the breadth and depth of contributing factors in these tiers that explains why there are entire collegiate semester courses on the subject, as well as baccalaureate and higher degrees of education on this type of psychological theory.
I’m sticking with the basic needs first concept and how it relates to growing upward—both for an individual and a community. That is where the concept of Live United comes to life. The following is an example from the United Way of Marquette County’s 2009-10 Live United campaign materials:
Bruce Miller has practiced dentistry in Marquette for twenty-three years. He Lives United by participating in the Donated Dental Services program. Through this program, Bruce provides free dental services to disabled, elderly or medically-compromised individuals who cannot afford necessary treatment nor get public aid. In addition, Bruce volunteers on the United Way board of directors and the United Way campaign team.
He is a member of Rotary International and volunteers at many local events, such as the Noquemenon Ski Race, Special Olympics Alpine Skiing and the Ore to Shore bike race. He gives not only his time, but supports area nonprofits with financial gifts as well. He doesn’t just wear the shirt, he Lives United. I like it.
There is much more to the concepts presented by Maslow and how they have been interpreted over the years. The one I find interesting and applicable to the idea of Live United is the following question “What motivates a person to act?”
The United Way of Marquette County campaign theme seeks to motivate the community to adapt the Live United concept. There are three action words in the campaign message used to get people started: give, advocate, volunteer.
Go to a fundraising dinner for whatever the cause. Volunteer to serve a meal or clean up afterward. Buy tickets for fundraising events and give them to others if you cannot attend. Donate to the food pantry, and if you receive donations, volunteer there. Support businesses who give to the community. Share your knowledge and experience serving on boards or committees. Give a voice to those things you care about. Put coins in donation cans. Coach. Teach. Mentor.
I’ve heard of a person who, when crossing the Mackinaw Bridge, pays the toll for the car behind hers. She calls it “paying forward.” I’d call that a random act of kindness. Better yet, these things all sound like Live United.
What can you do to give back, give thanks and give hope?
Donations received through the 2009-10 campaign, will be allocated by the United Way of Marquette County to thirty member agencies in the following five areas of community need:

• Basic Needs—disaster relief, affordable and transitional housing, food pantry, emergency shelter
• Domestic Violence and Addiction Services—emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence, youth addiction treatment, improve justice and services for children in court systems
• Youth Programs—homework help in safe environment, fitness programs, teen activities, parenting skills, mentoring
• Medical Assistance and Health Care—therapy camp for children, mental health services, access to health care for uninsured, cancer patient assistance
• Elderly Citizens and Adults with Disabilities—nutritious meals/social outreach for homebound seniors, assistive technology for those with disabilities, volunteer opportunities, promoting independence for adults with disabilities

maslows-hierarchy-of-needsI’m seeing these five areas falling near the base and middle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It looks like our community has an opportunity to move toward becoming a more healthy community.
I wonder what Dr. Maslow would have to say about this “community needs” lineup some sixty-six years post his initial theory? What would Dr. Maslow have to say about the Live United concept?
I think he would like it. A caring community is one that Lives United.
—Leslie Bek

Editor’s Note: Join Live United Campaign co-chairs Les and Phyllis Wong, visit www.uwmqt.org or call 226-8171.

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