United Way: Putting the right people together to meet the needs of our community
Published 6:15 pm Wednesday, April 28, 2021
United Way of West Central Mississippi has long arms. With its partner agencies, the nonprofit has the ability to reach out into the community, working through programs in the areas of education, financial stability and support services.
In setting out plans to help area children reach their potential, Alesia Shaw, United Way’s director of marketing and resource development, said the United Way’s partner agencies provide educational offerings, including day camps and daycare, mentoring programs and parent education programs.
The United Way has also partnered with the Vicksburg Warren School District as part of its educational focus and implemented Excel by 5 and the Mississippi Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, both of which have created programs that focus on the education needs of the community, Shaw said.
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“Over the past two years, we have increased our local Kindergarten Readiness Assessment scores seven points to a score of 529, which puts us above the state average of 502,” Shaw said.
In an effort to empower people to work toward becoming financially stable, United Way offerings focus on financial literacy, job training/readiness and affordable housing with four of the United Way partner agencies providing the needed assistance.
“Through the funding of our partner agencies’ programs, we have been able to assist others in finding affordable housing, strengthening job skills and most importantly allowing individuals to remain or become more independent,” Shaw said.
In targeting health, the United Way’s partner agencies, along with other community organization programs, provide services that include promoting healthy eating, exercise, early health screenings and crisis counseling.
A free medical clinic is partially funded by United Way to help meet the health need in the community, Shaw said.
For the most basic of needs — food, shelter and safety — Shaw said the United Way provides housing for domestic violence victims and disaster relief assistance for individuals and families.
“As part of the Warren County Long-Term Recovery Committee, we assisted 25 families after the 2019 backwater flood with repairs to their homes, while providing $104,343 in rent and utilities to those displaced from their homes,” Shaw said. “We also took part in raising funds for COVID Relief, distributing over $147,000 for basic needs, senior and disabled feeding programs as well as supporting our agencies by providing personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies.”
By creating sustainable, systemic change, Shaw said the United Way is helping provide the foundation for families to live a fulfilling life.
“Education, financial stability and health are the pillars to a better life and the United Way helps provide opportunities for those needing support in these areas by putting the right people together to meet the needs of our community,” she said.