EDITORIAL: Generosity abounds

By NEMS Daily Journal

United Way makes its goal in spite of the challenges
Mississippi is the most generous state in the nation when it comes to charitable giving, and Northeast Mississippi may well be the state’s most generous region.
Last week, the United Way of Northeast Mississippi reached its 2010 campaign goal of $2.15 million. This Thursday, the most recent campaign figure will be revealed in an 8 a.m. announcement in the Carpenter Room of the McLean Center in downtown Tupelo.
This achievement is just one more example of a community and region that continually rise to the challenge of caring for those in need and supporting the services that make for a better quality of life.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy has ranked Lee County as high as 43rd in the country for per capita charitable giving in years past. A culture of civic engagement and financial generosity have undergirded Lee County’s historic community and economic development success.
Lee County is only the largest of seven counties in the United Way of Northeast Mississippi, and all of those counties have their own histories of responding to community needs and initiating community improvement projects and services.
In addition to Lee, they include Chickasaw, Itawamba, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Tishomingo and Union counties. United Way of Northeast Mississippi funds a total of 64 agencies in those seven counties.
It’s impressive enough that the regional United Way routinely makes its goal, but that it has done so in some of the most difficult economic times the nation has seen makes the achievement all the more significant.
In 2009, a rough year by any economic standard, United Way exceeded its goal and raised $2.2 million, the second largest amount in the campaign’s history.
That success and this year’s giving have taken place at a time of double-digit unemployment across the region, exceeding 13 percent at one point. Those conditions produced a greater demand for the services of many United Way agencies at a time when the number of people able to give was constricting.
In spite of that – maybe even because of it, in some instances – Northeast Mississippians responded with the level of community spirit and financial commitment the region has come to expect of itself.
This is more than just rah-rah stuff. It represents the essence of caring, cohesive communities.
The true test of a community and region is whether it takes care of those in need, whatever the circumstances. Northeast Mississippi has met the test yet again, which is still more evidence why it’s such a great place to live.