United Way making late push to goal

Published 7:00 pm Saturday, February 2, 2019

Officials and volunteers with United Way of West Central Mississippi are preparing to hit the streets again as they continue their efforts to reach the organization’s anticipated goal in contributions.

United Way is holding the “Final Fifty” campaign; a five-week drive to generate $50,000 in campaign contributions that will continue to support the United Way’s 19 partner agencies and their programs. The drive ends Feb. 28.

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During that time, United Way staff and volunteers are covering Vicksburg and Warren County thanking people and small businesses who have already committed to this year’s campaign and asking others to join in.

As of Friday, the drive has raised $19,500.

“It’s been an exciting couple of weeks since we kicked off the Final Fifty,” United Way executive director Michele Connelly said.

“We’ve had teams of people hitting the streets and knocking on doors and asking individuals if they would like to become a part of the United Way family by making a donation to support our partner agencies, and we’ve had quite the success; it has been quite exciting for the volunteers out there trying to encourage people to give.”

Powerful moments

One of the interesting aspects of the campaign, Connelly said, is the volunteers are meeting and talking to people who may not have been asked to give in the past.

She said one woman contacted at a business by volunteers said she was not sure if the business could make a donation, but told the volunteers, “United Way touched my family when someone in my family’s house burned down, and I want to give personally.”

“That was a real powerful moment for the volunteers to be a part of that,” Connelly said.

“We’ve had live radio shows where our volunteers have gone and shared the United Way story, and the paper has been so helpful in sharing the story for us and getting the word out there that we’re rounding the corner on our Final Fifty,” she said.

Connelly said the area’s small businesses have been willing partners in the drive, adding, “They’ve either been touched by United Way or been a part of United Way, and they are so very welcoming to our volunteers, and they’re happy to be involved.

“Feb. 28 is the final day for this campaign, and we want to make sure we do all we can do to make sure our agencies and our programs we offer to this community are funded to the best of our ability.”

Corporate funding down

Connelly said one reason for the drop in contributions for the present campaign involved decisions made by companies to reduce their pledges.

“As life evolves and things change, there are decisions that directly impact campaigns,” she said.

“Those decisions are decisions that are not necessarily made in Vicksburg, Mississippi, but they’re made somewhere at the corporate level, and decisions on how they’re going to meet their philanthropic goals as everyone does a great job of providing to this wonderful community,” Connelly added.

“There were some decisions that were made that were great decisions, but they also directly affected how we were able to raise those funds in our large companies.”

When workplace campaigns came in low, Connelly said, it was time for United Way to regroup and determine how to explain the problem to the community “so they understand the urgency and the importance of giving, not only for our partner agencies, but for the people who call Vicksburg and our surrounding area home.”

For more information on the United Way, their partner agencies or the Final Fifty drive, call the UWWCM at 601-636-1733 or visit unitedwayvicksburg.org.

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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