As of Dec. 15, at its official campaign mini-celebration, United Way of Northeast Mississippi announced that it had raised $2,411,345.97, beating its $2.3 million goal and all previous fundraising records. The money will be allocated to the 69 nonprofit agencies the United Way supports in Chickasaw, Itawamba, Lee, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Union and Tishomingo counties. Some of the largest allocations go to Salvation Army, Regional Rehab, Boys & Girls Clubs, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Good Samaritan Free Clinic, Meals on Wheels and various food pantries.
The necessity of adequately funding United Way’s agency requests is never more apparent than in times of continuing uncertainty, when social service agencies like food pantries and free clinics, youth organizations, and various kinds of health care face greatest pressure to meet needs.
“It’s not about meeting this goal as much as it is about having the money to help these 69 agencies and the people they serve,” said Campaign Chairman Rick Willis at the announcement event Dec. 15 inside the CREATE building downtown.
If anyone had doubts about becoming a fully regional agency, raising funds for United Way in the six counties has surely banished them.
Strength complements strength, even when economic challenges may make one, two or more of the agencies and/or funding sources financially weaker in a given year.
A committee of residents from each county decides how the money is allocated in each county, appropriate autonomy because of the region’s multiple interests eventually overlapping for positive benefit.
United Way also derives strength from its ability to make positive changes, like regional status, an idea whose time had not fully evolved when United Way started more than a half-century ago.