The efforts of United Way of the Tri-Valley Area to assist those affected by the LEAP explosion were nothing short of heroic. In the middle of their own annual fundraising campaign, they dropped everything and, for weeks, devoted full time to the recovery.

UWTVA has only three staff members. I had the honor of volunteering with them in the aftermath of the explosion. I witnessed firsthand their valiant, non-stop efforts as they counseled victims who walked in; fielded hundreds of calls from people who wanted to get involved; set up a Facebook page where those who wanted to help could connect directly with those in need; and worked collaboratively with other organizations in exemplary management and distribution of the thousands of dollars that poured in.

Meanwhile, their own annual fundraising drive ground to a halt.

UWTVA is a critical force for good in the Tri-Valley area: Franklin County, Livermore and Livermore Falls. It provides concrete services such as food and shelter, special one-time grants and program grants that support nonprofit agencies.

Our community rose up in a remarkable response to a horrifyingly destructive event. I urge us to keep the energy going. One way folks can do that is by making an ongoing commitment to the community-strengthening efforts of UWTVA. What better way to honor the courage and sacrifice of our first responders and the generosity of the hundreds who pitched in to help?

Elizabeth Kuhlman, Chesterville

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