United Way: Service to the community

By By Kelly Quackenbush/The Meridian Star
April 23, 2001
With a new name and an expanded reach, Louis Sutton Jr. believes his organization can achieve new levels of service.
Sutton, president of the newly-renamed United Way of East Mississippi, announced upcoming goals and projects in an editorial board interview with The Meridian Star. Extending the organization's reach into Kemper and Clarke counties in Mississippi as well into West Alabama is key.
To better reflect the expansion, the board of directors decided to rename the fund-raising organization as the United Way of East Mississippi.
The expanded service area may help the United Way raise more money to help more agencies, which, in turn, helps more people. Sutton said United Way organizations in such cities as Hattiesburg and Vicksburg routinely raise at least $1 million, while the local United Way's fund-raising goal was $765,000 last year.
This new expansion could help the United Way of East Mississippi reach a $1 million goal. Sutton has met with both Kemper and Clarke counties and "they were very receptive."
Agencies in Kemper and Clarke are expected to file applications to participate in the United Way of East Mississippi.
Sutton said another goal is to "get the public to see that we are a service organization." One of the projects involves students.
The program will be called Supply Our Students, S.O.S., and will take place in July and August as the United Way collects materials for students.
The program will include participation opportunities for sponsors, individuals and companies. It will run for three weeks starting right after July 4 and ending the first week of August. The United Way will release a list of school supplies to donate soon.
As far as the 2001 fund-raising effort goes, Sutton would like to put some "competition" in the campaign.
The United Way usually recognizes the top donators at the end of the campaign. Sutton wants to bring recognition during the campaign by publishing a weekly report that shows how much businesses are contributing.
He plans to highlight a division a week to keep the community interested and involved. The divisions will include major firms (companies with more than 50, employees), FIRE (financial, insurance and real estate), public and municipal workers, small businesses and individuals.
The United Way will put more emphasis on workplace payroll deduction in the upcoming campaign.
The United Way is in the planning stage for the upcoming campaign and volunteers are "desperately needed."
The United Way partially funds 18 service agencies. The annual campaign starts in September and runs through November and the fund-raising goal is determined by the budget needs of participating agencies.
Kelly Quackenbush is a staff writer for The Meridian Star., call her at 693-1551, ext. 3228 or e-mail her at kquackenbush@themeridianstar.com.

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