How United Way Helped Family Through Tragic Accident
“When you see the ads for United Way, and you see the kids, I am that kid. I literally see myself in those pictures,” says David Russell.
When David was in the 3rd grade, his younger brother was hit by a dump truck while walking home from school in their north Louisville neighborhood. His brother’s injuries were so serious that he had to miss a year of school. This unfortunate accident led David to build a positive, lifelong connection to United Way.
As an adult, David moved to the Washington, D.C. area, where he never forgot how United Way impacted his young life. Since then, he’s been a loyal contributor and something of a United Way evangelist.
It all started when David’s mother sent her son back to school for the first time after the accident. “We were essentially latchkey kids. That wouldn’t have presented a huge problem except the school we went to was about three blocks away from where we were living, and you had to cross at least two to three streets to get home. Given that my mother had had a son get hit by a dump truck, obviously she’s going to be really concerned,” says David.
It turns out that just about 40 yards from David’s home in Louisville’s Butchertown neighborhood, there was a United Way-funded center for children. Wesley House Community Services became David’s home away from home from the 3rd grade through high school.
“It was a group of adults, primarily volunteers, and some paid staff, with money from United Way and the Methodist Church. They would go to the elementary school, gather up the kids, walk them through these intersections and bring them to the Community House.”
Once there, they participated in games, swimming, baking, roller skating, carpentry, sports and more. They even sent kids to camp in Indiana. “If they were open I was there. For my mother, this was a God-send.”
At his first job in Washington, D.C., David became a United Way NCA donor through the company’s workplace campaign. Since then he has continued to be a loyal contributor. “I tell my story of how when I was a kid I was a huge beneficiary of United Way. I don’t twist any arms. I say why it’s a great thing, and that it helps. You don’t have to spend your life savings on it, but if you could make a contribution you can help folks out. For me, it’s very easy because I believe it.”
He particularly believes in our vision of increasing achievement for low income middle school youth. “What United Way is doing can only help because without that more [kids] are going to fall through the cracks. Everything you do at that middle school point is critical,” says David. “Every kid that’s saved from a life of crime, that’s a life saved, that’s resources that are saved. It’s just smart living. These are smart investments.”
“To me, we are part of this community; we own it. We contribute to it with our taxes; we contribute to it with our lives,” he says. “You’re living here, you may die here, you’ve got family here, so own it, be as big a part of it as you can.”