OUR OPINION: Region’s United Way exceeds 2013 goals

United Way of Northeast Mississippi broke through the top of its goal for 2013-2014 last week, announcing gifts and pledges of more than $2.4 million for its affiliated agencies and programs across the region.

The record-setting gifts will assist agencies in Lee, Chickasaw, Itawamba, Pontotoc, Prentiss. Tishomingo and Union counties.

The strong core of United Way contributions remains workplace campaigns, with major contributions through payroll deductions committed by employees and lump-sum corporate gifts.

Businesses and industries, educational institutions, health institutions, and many other kinds of enterprises, both private-sector and public, participate in the annual United Way campaign.

The United Way umbrella is broad of necessity. Its affiliated agencies and the support United Way raises money for some United Way agencies that, while important, do not have the kind of high public profile that alone attracts enough support to sustain operations and services. Working together across seven counties the support grows large enough to make possible extraordinary programs and assistance.

In what was considered a challenging economic climate, United Way added 15 new business-based campaigns in 2013, and some of those had giving totals exceeding $20,000, a major boost.

Robby Parman, campaign director, said, “The key is making people aware of the need that’s out there. Once they hear that story and know the money stays to help people here, they are really willing to give.”

Staff writer Riley Manning reported that 99 cents of every dollar raised stays within the United Way nonprofit’s seven-county area, which contains Chickasaw, Itawamba, Lee, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Tishomingo and Union counties.

A committee of 130 volunteers representing the areas determines the allocation of dollars based on funding requests submitted by agencies that serve within those counties. The committee exercises exceptional care in evaluating requests, and simply making a request does not guarantee that a full amount or any amount will be granted.

The organization includes financial service professionals, professionals within the areas seeking funding, and people with experience in each of the types of requests sought.

United Way has been the bridge closing gaps in funding for scores of agencies through the years. It is an invaluable resource, and its cooperative philosophy strengthens whole communities and the region.