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United Way sets $195,000 goal for fund-raising

Following two days of hearing agency funding requests Tuesdayand Wednesday, United Way of Lincoln County officials arefinalizing plans for the 2005-06 fund-raising campaign.

Funding requests from more than 25 agencies totaled $260,000.The United Way review committee set its goal at $195,000.

“We have to be realistic about setting a goal,” said Rita Rich,the 2005-06 campaign chairwoman. “We set the goal at a level webelieve we could achieve.”

United Way volunteers will start collecting pledges and raisingfunds later this year.

“We’ll have a kickoff breakfast in August,” Rich said. “We’llannounce that date later.”

Rich said the committee will look to revamp the structure of thekickoff breakfast.

Previous years’ events have included booth and exhibits fromUnited Way agencies. This year will feature a slide presentationand discussions of how agencies have been helped.

“I’m looking at some testimonials from agencies that havereceived United Way funds,” Rich said.

Review committee member Mary Smith has been a United Wayvolunteer since the 1980s.

“We’re seeing more agencies, and the needs are greater,” Smithsaid about the differences over time. “And hopefully, we’re servingmore people.”

United Way funds represent a significant portion of someagencies’ budgets. For others, the charitable money helps enhancestrong programs that also get funds from other sources.

Susie Patrick and Cindy Ratcliff, case workers from Big BrothersBig Sisters, said the local funds help with a scholarship for youngadults who continue to be mentors while attending Co-Lin orSouthwest Mississippi Community College. The money also helps withother activities, such as T-shirts for the organization’s annualpicnic.

“It provides the frills for our program,” said Patrick,explaining that state funds cover the local program’s operationalexpenses.

Rich said the committee was able to appropriate some money forall agencies, including a few one-time contributions. Specificagency funding amounts were not released.

During this week’s hearings, requesting agencies were also madeaware of other funding sources that may help in their efforts.

“We encourage intercooperation among the agencies for theirservices,” Rich said.

Committee members said the money given to United Way helpspeople in the Lincoln County area.

“The money is used to help children and adults,” Rich said.”It’s for all citizens.”

Committee member JoAnna Sproles cited the Sunshine Shelter forabused children in Natchez as an example of United Way fundshelping local residents even though the money may leave the county.The shelter helps citizens from across southwest Mississippi.

“The money could go out of the county, but it still helps thepeople of Lincoln County,” Sproles said.

Rich mentioned that the Salvation Army requested funding toaccompany a center planned for Brookhaven. Rich said the reviewcommittee wanted to see more progress on the center beforeallocating funds.

“When they can show implementation of a center, they canresubmit their proposal,” Rich said. “We did not definitely sayno.”

Rich hopes that few will say no this year when approached aboutcontributing to the United Way campaign.

“We’re going to have to do a better job of getting peopleinvolved,” she said.

Between now and August, Rich said she will be lining upvolunteers to revisit businesses that have been part of United Wayin the past and approach new businesses about joining.

“Our goal is to serve as many of the requests as possible,” Richsaid. “To do that, we need the support of the people.”

United Way officials will look for continued support from localindustries and manufacturers. Those entities make up about 75percent of the fund annually.

“We couldn’t fund United Way without the support of theindustries and manufacturers,” said Gwen Gayden, committeemember.

The United Way year will start Oct. 1. Pledges will be solicitedfollowing the kickoff, and a fund-raising amount will be announcedat the annual Chamber of Commerce banquet in November orDecember.

“Hopefully, we can have a good number to announce at thebanquet,” Rich said.