Ben Moser, President and CEO of the United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley, encouraged Troy University graduates to be kind to others and to utilize their degrees to give back to the community.
Speaking to nearly 70 fall 2020 graduates from TROY’s Phenix City Campus on Friday during a ceremony at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center, Moser said there is a great need for an emphasis to be placed on kindness and decency within the United States.
“Decency, kindness, community, giving back, being respectful of each other’s beliefs and opinions – these are some of the cornerstones of a civilized society,” he said. “In this currently tense and confusing world, we cannot personally control what is going to happen in many ways. The economy is unpredictable. The political situation is unpredictable. Our health can be unpredictable. But, we can control how we treat each other and speak to each other. That means even if you disagree with someone politically or about religion or economics. We must all remember that we are interacting with another human being and you do not know what they are personally dealing with at that moment.”
Moser stressed the importance of injecting kindness into speech and systems within the country.
“We must find a way to return to a truly kind civil discourse in the public space in this country. We must instill kindness into our speech and systems,” he said. “We must return to a world where at least the vast majority of public interaction is done with respect. It starts with kindness. If it was not obvious before COVID, it is now – we are all connected. So, in a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
According to Moser, one of the greatest issues facing the Chattahoochee Valley is poverty. One in four area residents live in poverty, he said.
“The ultimately collective kindness is to aggressively address the cause of greatest human suffering in your community. For us, in this time, poverty is that cause,” Moser said. “It is the single greatest issue of concern in the Chattahoochee Valley and ending it should be the greatest humanitarian endeavor of our generation. We cannot as a community, region, states and nation continue to allow our people to live in abject poverty, especially children. No matter what happens in the rest of the world, this community can provide safe, affordable housing, a good education, the opportunity to work, access to healthy food, a clean, a safe environment and equity in services with a special emphasis on traditionally underserved communities of color.”
Moser encouraged the new graduates to help eradicate poverty.
“Take your degree and use it in some small way or in some gigantic way to help us eradicate poverty in the Chattahoochee Valley,” he said. “In giving your time, treasure and talent back to your community, you are performing acts of kindness that will change the trajectory for generations of our neighbors.”
Before assuming his current role in August 2019, Moser served as Director of Major Gifts for the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County, NC, and he held several positions at the United Way of Forsyth County in Winston-Salem, NC.
Moser earned his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1999, and went on to receive his Juris Doctor degree from the New York Law School in 2004. He practiced law in New York City for seven years before returning to North Carolina to join the staff of the United Way.