Everyone supports social services – in theory. We’re glad they’re around. We admire people who dedicate themselves to such work. We feel for the individuals and families who need the services these agencies offer.

And, then, too many of us tune out. We assume that other people, people with more than we have, are funding the need. Or we assume that government is paying the freight and figure we’re already doing our part. Or we make vague excuses: that, someday when we’re less busy or more flush, we’ll do that volunteer shift, we’ll write that check.

Listen up, folks, the time is now.

The need is now.

And when you read our annual special section about the people served by the agencies of the United Way in our hometowns, you will – we hope – understand that the demands for services are rising and that those demands are being made by people an awful lot like you.

Making the services offered by the United Way-funded agencies real has always been our goal in publishing this Community of Caring section. We get how so much can seem removed from our everyday lives: efforts of day care centers for low-income parents, workshops for the developmentally disabled, services for the homeless.

We don’t want to think about mental health issues or having our kid get sick.

But in these pages you’ll read the stories of such real problems challenging real people: our neighbors in Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park who need our help and support. The annual United Way campaign is beginning now. These 18 local agencies rely on the funding of the United Way – especially with serious cuts coming out of Springfield.

Step up. Do your part. Make your contribution to the strong cloth binding these remarkable communities.

If you want to help

United Way of Oak Park, River Forest & Forest Park is a member of the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. The local office is at 1048 Pleasant St. in Oak Park, 386-4885, uwoprffp.org. The agencies that get help from the United Way of Oak Park, River Forest & Forest Park:

  • Aspire
  • Community Support Services
  • Girl Scouts
  • Hephzibah Children’s Association
  • Oak Park-River Forest Day Nursery
  • The Children’s Clinic
  • Lifelong Learning Center
  • Oak-Leyden Developmental Services
  • Parenthesis
  • Pillars
  • Sarah’s Inn
  • Seguin Services
  • Thrive Counseling Center
  • Volunteer Center
  • The Way Back Inn
  • West Suburban PADS
  • West Suburban Senior Services
  • YMCA of Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park

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Dan Haley

Dan was one of the three founders of Wednesday Journal in 1980. He’s still here as its four flags – Wednesday Journal, Austin Weekly News, Forest Park Review and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark – make...