We Fight...for Rose

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I set up two video shoots with 898 Marketing.  We wanted to get as much shot on those two days as possible.  We knew finding people living in poverty would be a difficult task, not because they don't exist.  We just needed to get them on video properly without exploiting them.  We wanted to be sensitive to everyone.

On the second day of shooting, we were at Salvation Army around lunch time getting video for the campaign video.  I spoke to the new Major at the Salvation Army on Glenwood Avenue on Youngstown's South Side.  I told him we'd like to come in to one of our partner agencies to try and depict poverty in the area.  They serve lunch each day and offer various grocery items and toiletries and vitamins to their clients.  Major Paul Moore was very welcoming, and said get whatever we needed.  

When we all arrived, me and the guys from 898 Marketing - Jeff and Dan, we saw this lady sitting outside in a motorized wheel chair.  Actually, moments before I held the door for her as she was exiting the building, and I was walking out to meet the guys.  We said the usual, "Hello, how are you today?".  But once the guys from 898 saw her sitting underneath the shade of a tree, they knew that was the shot they needed.

So I went to talk to her, explain what we were doing, and get her to sign a media release.  

Her name is Rose...

After brief introductions, she said, "Oh you're with United Way."  At first I was nervous, I wasn't sure what she was going to say next.  She went on, "Last year we had bed bugs in our apartments and they threw out all my stuff and all my food.  I called you guys for help."  

Rose paused, and honestly, I was like uh-oh because I know we don't provide direct services and can't always help the people who call our office.  We kindly tell them to call Help Hotline, explaining that we fund various agencies that may be able to help them (with utility expenses, food, clothing) and calling 2-1-1 would be the best avenue to take to get that information and help.  Unfortunately, that doesn't always sit well with people because they need an immediate fix and often we are not equipped to do that out of our office.

But then Rose said, "You were the only ones who helped me get groceries."  

She had paused because she had started to cry. Rose was so appreciative of the gift card our AFL-CIO liaison, Billy Keel, was able to give her through community services.  Our partnership with the AFL-CIO and its Community services allows us to help people with basic needs, mostly groceries or food, in certain instances.

The message of this video is We Fight. We Win. - the key being WE.  AND we, United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, can't do this alone.  So we should be proud of the work we are doing - with our programs and the programs we fund and the partners we work with - we are helping people on so many levels.  And the people in the video are real people, with real needs, with real struggles.

So if anyone asks, let them know:  This is REAL LIFE in our Valley.  The people in this video are REAL PEOPLE living here.  And we are helping win the fight.