Pamela O'Neill cares.
Why else would a songwriter-singer who has entertained crowds in Houston, Los Angeles and the Twin Cities make an appearance in Brainerd?
At a 7:30 a.m. breakfast.
The 30-year-old McNeill was featured at the Crow Wing County United Way Day of Caring kickoff breakfast this morning at the Holiday Inn.
Because she cares.
The Winona native who now lives in Prior Lake has been helping the United Way of America since last July. At the behest of the United Way of Greater Duluth she wrote the songs for a CD album, "Two Sides of Every Sky."
She wrote the songs in four days. They range from "You Will Love Again" to "Child" to "Kicked Out." Two of her songs have been chosen for a national United Way campaign next year.
McNeill, who was making her first visit to the Brainerd lakes area, said in an interview Wednesday night she decided to start working with the United Way because of the impact she felt after the Columbine shooting.
"That was the catalyst," she said. "I wanted to do something positive but I didn't know what."
From personal experience, she knew what it was like to be served by some of the human service agencies that benefit from United Way campaigns.
"I know about the food shelves in the Twin Cities," she said. "I know what government cheese tastes like."
She met with Duluth United Way officials, taking a look at the programs and the people they target. She feels she can help the fund drives reach younger audiences. In time, the national office started using her as a professional resource.
Mike Gaffney, her business manager, said it appears some of the music will be used in the highly visible National Football League public service announcements showing players' involvement with United Way agencies.
"I had no idea that United Way does so many different things," O'Neill said. "And I had no idea that so many people didn't know this."
Now she's helping United Way spread the caring attitude.
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