Kristen Meehan spreads the United Way’s stories

Published 11:15 am Friday, November 21, 2014

The United Way's Kristen Meehan is the Everyday Hero. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

The United Way’s Kristen Meehan is the Everyday Hero. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

For Kristen Meehan, helping others is a personal mission. The Pass Christian, native moved to Vicksburg after Hurricane Katrina destroyed her hometown.

After losing everything in the hurricane, the director of marketing and community relations for United Way of Central Mississippi learned the importance of having a supportive community that is there when one really needs it.

Meehan said she often feels an immediate connection with the residents she works with because she has been through some of the struggles they are facing.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“In the year following the hurricane, I had to begin rebuilding my own life while dealing with a family illness, too,” she said.

She uses her experience to remind people how strong they can be in those turbulent situations.

“Her gentle, soothing nature stabilizes any situation and makes people feel at ease,” Cindy McCarley, program director of the Warren County Children’s Shelter said.

Her daily work, though, is spent marketing for the United Way’s campaign, programs, and events. The United Way’s main focuses are on education, financial stability, and health. Organizations like Good Shepherd, the Salvation Army, and Girl Scouts apply to become a United Way partner agency. Currently the organization has 22 partner agencies.

Meehan said many of the agencies have great ideas and the potential to do so much, but are lacking in resources and volunteers.

“A lot of these agencies are small; sometimes one person is doing everything, including marketing,” Meehan said. “I can take some of that work from them and get the word out.”

“We – the six ladies that work in our office – cannot do a lot by ourselves, but partnered with all of these agencies, that’s hundreds of people making a difference,” Meehan said.

McCarley said Meehan is able to see a need and immediately understands how communication and technology will be able to help fill it.

Meehan started her career as a print journalist, which she said led her to her current job.

“I’m selling our agencies’ stories and working to help the community – it’s the best of both worlds,” Meehan said.”

United Way executive director Michele Connelly has been with the organization since June, and said she was especially impressed with Meehan’s involvement in the community.

“If there is anything wrong with her, it’s that she doesn’t say no to a project, regardless of what all she has on her plate,” Connelly said.

Among other things Meehan is already planning ahead for “Dancing with the Vicksburg Stars”, an annual event based on the popular television show “Dancing with the Stars.”  The event, scheduled for April 4, draws an average of 400 attendees each year. Whatever the event, Meehan said her mind is always on fostering community in Vicksburg.

“Financial stability is desperately needed in our community right now,” Meehan said. “If we can help create that, it will solve so many of the other problems that residents of Vicksburg currently face.”

By Elizabeth Manning

For The Vicksburg Post