Hustling for Hope: Margaret Ann O’Neal and the United Way Journey

I sit in my makeshift studio at the Kanawha County Public Library, ready to dive into another episode of the Kanawha Valley Hustlers podcast. Today, I’m joined by Margaret Ann O’Neal, the president of the United Way of Central West Virginia. Her energy is infectious, and I’m eager to learn about her hustle, her passion for making a difference.

As we start the conversation, I ask Margaret the same question I ask all my guests: “What’s your hustle?” Her response is immediate and enthusiastic. She loves being called a hustler, and for a good reason – raising money. Margaret’s current focus is the United Way of Central West Virginia, an organization close to her heart.

Margaret explains the United Way’s mission succinctly. They fund various nonprofits, focusing on health, education, financial stability, and safety nets. Listening to her, I’m struck by the dedication she has for her work. She talks about their programs, like the Equal Footing Shoe Fund, where they provide shoes for kids in need, and West Virginia 211, a vital information and referral network.

What surprises me is learning about the challenges unique to West Virginia, especially related to substance use disorder and education. Margaret shares stories of the struggles faced by the community, emphasizing the importance of addressing root causes. Her passion shines through as she discusses their efforts to combat hunger, like the United Way Mobile Market, bringing groceries to areas with limited access to stores.

The conversation takes an unexpected turn when Margaret shares a personal anecdote about her past life as a pumpkin farmer. Her tone is light, but her words carry the weight of experience. I can’t help but admire her resilience and ability to find humor in life’s challenges.

As our conversation winds down, Margaret encourages listeners to get involved, emphasizing the impact of time, talent, and treasure. Her words echo in my mind as we wrap up the episode. It’s a reminder of the power we all hold to make a difference, even in the face of adversity.

As I sign off, I feel inspired by Margaret’s hustle, her dedication to her community, and her unwavering spirit. This episode has been a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the difference one person can make.

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