United Way honors agencies, volunteers

Published 10:38 am Friday, February 24, 2017

Laura Weeks sat at the table and looked over the encased plaque naming her United Way of West Central Mississippi’s Volunteer of the Year.

“I’m over whelmed,” she said.

Lori Burke, incoming chairman of the United Way Board of Directors, called Weeks “a remarkable business woman and community advocate. When she moved to Vicksburg, she became actively involved in the community.”

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She said Weeks, who owns Lorelei Books, supports the United Way L.E.A.R.N. program and helps market the organization’s events and literacy projects.

“She has adopted two schools where she is responsible for reading to third graders. To help us get ready for the Summer Book Swap, she spent hours categorizing hundreds of donated books in an effort to ensure children received age appropriate books,” Burke said. “She gives us a generous discount enabling us to purchase free books for every third grader in our community.”

“The United Way is so much fun to work with, you almost forget you’re volunteering. You don’t really feel like you’re aware of the time you’re spending; you get so much joy working with the United Way employees, the other volunteers,” Weeks said.

“Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces. The children I read to have approached me in public places in the community and come up to me and say to their parents, ‘This is the lady who comes to our school and reads to us.’ You really feel it ‘s effortless when you volunteer if that’s what you get in return; that kind of joy of knowing you touched people’s lives.”

Weeks, who will soon be moving to North Carolina, said United Way “is a perfect example of what I will miss about Vicksburg.”

She was one of several honored at United Way’s annual meeting and awards program Thursday at the Waterview Casino.

“We are indeed proud of our volunteers and their commitment to this organization,” outgoing chairman of the board Linda Fondren said. “We are also excited to recognize some of the many individuals who have guided and supported United Way for many years. Today it is all about you — the people who help to make our organization one of the best in the state.”

Looking toward United Way’s future, Burke said it has been reinvigorated with a new dream, vision and journey.

“It is my goal to continue that dream and work with Michele and the United Way team to fulfill their vision. United Way is sowing, planting seeds or spreading love in our community. This year we will continue to advocate, build relationships, engage volunteers all year, measure our success by community impact, enhance third graders’ reading skills, but most of all we will all live united.

Also honored during the program were:

• Jackie Libbett, 2016 Community Investment Volunteer of the Year.

Alene Thornton, Community Council, Agency Director of the Year.

Regina Prentiss, 2016 Employee Campaign Coordinator of the year.

Anderson-Tully, 2016 Corporation of the Year.

Jill Pierce and Susie Calbert, 2016 Leadership Award.

Justin Ehrgott, St. Aloysius High School, $300 Bruce Alan Ebersole Jr. scholarship, and Annabeth H. Breeden, St. Aloysius High School, $500 Bruce Alan Ebersole Jr. scholarship.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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