UNIE awards $18,000 in grants






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NAN-0418-UNITE-4cThirteen community service organizations shared grants totaling $18,000 Thursday night, thanks to the UNITE Foundation.

Established in 2003, UNITE (Union CountyNew Albany Initiative to Excel) is a local community affiliate fund and a tax-exempt charitable organization that operates under the umbrella of CREATE Foundation, Inc.

The grants, which range from $1,000 to $5,000, were presented at a dinner meeting that also served to kick off a fund-raising effort – the first for UNITE in some time.

“We haven’t asked for more funds in several years,” President Travis Wiseman said. “Tonight, we are.”

UNITE began in 2002 when a group of concerned citizens expressed interest in having a community foundation similar to CREATE in Lee county. CREATE challenged the community and also offered help in the form of a matching grant if people here could garner sufficient financial support.

The goal was met and UNITE remains the only community foundation where individuals and groups have the opportunity to make charitable contributions that are used to meet the needs of their communities and improve the quality of life for the citizens of New Albany and Union County not only for the present but for the future.

Through the UNITE Community Foundation, individuals, families, organizations, and corporations invest in the well-being of our communities by supporting the civic, educational, health, human services, and cultural activities that improve the quality of life for all Union County residents.

Decisions on spending recommendations for grants are made by the local advisory board whose current members are President Travis Wiseman, Vice-President Bobby Moore, Directors Pam Brown, Bo Collins, Ray Collins, Gary Cooper, Joe Davis, Cathy Garrett, Jay Herrington, Cathy McClinton, Phil Morris, Thad Mueller, Rodney Shands, Bill Smallwood and Anne Stephens. Collett Cross is Executive Director.

This year’s recipients were the New Albany Boys and Girls Club, Excel by 5 Early Childhood Education, First Choice of Union County, Good Samaritan Center, Junior Auxiliary of New Albany, New Albany Main Street Association, New Albany and Union County Symphony League, New Haven Center for Special Needs Adults, Tallahatchie RiverFest, Union County Historical Society and Heritage Museum, Union County Library, Union County Master Gardeners and Union County Lighthouse Enrichment Center.


This diverse range of recipients have utilized UNITE funds to

·                     buy books for those who can read and to teach those who cannot read to read,

·                     provide a safe place for children after school and during the summer

·                     assist with tutorial programs

·                     supply food and utility assistance to hundreds of individuals in need

·                     enhance cultural opportunities in the community

·                     enrich the lives of special needs adults

·                     purchase supplies for volunteers to repair the homes of the elderly and needy

·                     preserve the history of the community

·                     beautify parks, city streets, and communities

·                     promote participation in fine arts

·                     attract visitors to New Albany and Union County

·                     aid in disaster relief

·                     sponsor community festivals

·                     conduct children’s theater camp


All money contributed to UNITE becomes a part of an endowment, which generates income that will continue to give back to the community for generations to come.

Contributions to UNITE are managed by CREATE Foundation and each year five percent of the principal is returned to be distributed to county organizations. All money that is raised in Union County stays in Union County. The majority of the contributions come from individuals. Contributions from local businesses comprise the next largest source of support. Some local civic clubs include UNITE in their annual budgets. The donor base includes approximately 200.

Herrington said the goal for this fund drive is $25,000 and he announced that the five children of Anne Stephens are each contributing $1,000 toward that in honor of their mother. Mrs. Stephens was one of the originators of UNITE and her family pledged to match other contributions two to one then; she also has been honored by the CREATE Foundation for her contributions and work. “The Bible says to whom much is given, much is required. I want to give back,” she said.”A gift to UNITE is a gift that keeps giving. We thank CREATE for their challenge and I want to thank the citizens and organizations who have given to support it.” She also expressed appreciation to those on the board of directors “working together to improve the lives of our citizens and make this a good place to live and work in the future.”

Since its creation, UNITE has raised $439,960 locally. Today the endowment balance is $523,196 and the foundation has awarded $214,062 to service organizations. Based on the percentage of grant disbursements to money raised locally, UNITE is ranked number one among the 11 CREATE affiliates.

There are a number of different ways to make contributions. UNITE accepts cash, stock, real estate and life insurance as well as other transferable assets. Also, honorariums and memorials are received. Contributions may be mailed to UNITE, P.O. Box 125, New Albany, MS 38652