Community leaders who attended Wednesday’s Live United luncheon got an interactive reminder of the still-too-large share of Central Iowans whose daily lives are affected by poverty, homelessness and other needs. 

At one point in the luncheon, participants were asked to stand based on the color of the Live United stickers at each of their places. One-third of the crowd of 820 stood, for instance, to represent the percentage of Greater Des Moines residents who currently don’t earn enough to cover their basic needs — 36%. 

Affordable housing remains one of the most pressing needs, with on average only four affordable housing units available for every 10 families in need of affordable housing — a shortage of about 12,000 units. 

Through United Way’s annual campaign in 2018, more than 32,000 Central Iowans contributed through campaigns conducted by 530 organizations in Greater Des Moines. More than 18,000 individuals volunteered in United Way programs addressing education, income, health and essential needs.

"I call United Way the cycle-breaker," United Way Chairman Tom Mahoney said. "We’re inspiring new opportunities and hope for the next generation. … We’re here to focus on barriers we still face, and to recognize the positive impact that you have all made." 

The winner of this year’s Spirit of Central Iowa Award was Athene in West Des Moines, whose projects included leading efforts for the Stuff the Bus event to collect books for Central Iowa students, and participation in the Read to Succeed program. 

Throughout the year, Athene employees participated in nine separate events organized by the company. The award recognizes one organization that through giving, advocating and volunteering has shown an exceptional level of dedication to helping attain the community goals of United Way of Central Iowa.

To view the 2019 Community Impact Report, click here.

To view the complete list of the individual and organization winners of the Live United Awards, click here.