United Way: Annual campaign raises $1.24M


On April 18, United Way of Southeast Mississippi held its Annual Meeting & Thank You Banquet at Southern Oaks House and Gardens. With 200 community members and business leaders in attendance, United Way executive members reported on the impact of donor contributions and recognized local businesses and individuals for their hard work and dedication. 

Total dollars raised in 2018 to support partner agencies and programs through donations, workplace campaign, $100K Payday fundraiser and by securing grant funds and sponsorship dollars is $1,252,355.

Corporate Philanthropy award - Georgia Pacific – Leaf River Cellulose: Corporate donation of $20,000. 

This award recognizes the company that participates in employee giving and has the largest corporate donation. 

Campaign Coordinator of the Year – Krystal Phillips, The First, A National Banking Association.

Some of our hardest-working volunteers are the Employee Campaign Coordinators. Their leadership and motivation in their company campaigns is crucial to United Way. They plan, set goals, organize events, spread awareness and encourage coworkers to donate through the workplace campaign. 

Volunteer of the Year – Zach Rigby, Regions

United Way's mission to improve lives and strengthen communities is driven by the passion and hard work of volunteers. Volunteer involvement is a critical and irreplaceable asset in making long-term change happen. Zach has been a United Way volunteer more than 14 years.

Spirit of United Way – Wendy Farrell, Community Volunteer

The Spirit of United Way award is presented to a person or persons, organization or corporate partner, that embodies an overall spirit of Living United through contributions of time, leadership and resources in support of United Way’s work in education, health and financial stability. 

2018 Board of Directors:
Chase Blankenship, The First, ANBA
Julie Breazeale, Polk’s Meat Products
Celeste Brown, Southern Mississippi Planning & Development District
Jermaine Brown, H’burg Public School District
Rebecca Brown, Pearl River CCC
Jana Bryant, Georgia Pacific - Leaf River Cellulose
Jerry DeFatta, USM Alumni Association
Kristy Gould, Hattiesburg Clinic
Karen Griffis, Regions
Terrell Grindle, Nicholson Consulting
Shawn Harris, Regions
Greg Hodges, Hancock Whitney
Todd Jackson, The ADP
Ryan Kelly, Horizon Prof. Services
Marcia Line, Lamar Co. Ed. Foundation
Janet Mitchell, Forrest General Hospital
Bo Pennebaker, Ashley Homestore
Tony Reimonenq Jr., West Point Baptist Church
Traci Rouse, Merit Health Wesley
Willie Sims, Willie B. Sims Jr., CPA
Benny Waddle, BancorpSouth
Dr. Rick Wilemon, William Carey University
Brad Wood, Topp McWhorter Harvey, PLLC
LaTressa Young, Lamar County School District

2018 Pacesetter Companies:
Anderson Design Center
Area Development Partnership
Forrest General Hospital
Hancock Whitney
Hattiesburg Clinic
Merit Health Wesley
Mississippi Power Company
SE Mississippi Rural Health Initiative
The First, A National Banking Assoc.
William Carey University 

2018 Top Ten Campaigns: (for dollars raised)
1. Forrest General Hospital
2. Hattiesburg Clinic
3. Regions
4. Georgia Pacific- Leaf River Cellulose
5. The University of Southern Mississippi
6. Lamar County School District
7. BancorpSouth
8. The First, ANBA
9. Merit Health Wesley
10.Hattiesburg Coca-Cola 

A United Way Thank You

Friends, supporters and community members, 

On behalf of United Way of Southeast Mississippi and its board of directors, I’d like to express deep gratitude for your support of United Way’s mission through generous donations of dollars, time and commitment. The impact of these resources is an investment in creating change, improving lives and building a better future for the communities where we live and work. 

I know I speak for everyone serving on the board and other volunteer-based committees when I say that we take our responsibilities as stewards of your donor dollars very seriously – identifying the areas of most need, collaborating with local nonprofit programs and emphasizing measurable outcomes that will truly result in lasting change. 

For example, United Way SEMS concentrates on improving lives in the areas of education, financial stability and healthy living in Forrest, Lamar, Marion and Perry Counties. In 2018, more than 130,868 individuals were served through at least one United Way supported program. Look at it this way – that’s nearly three times the population of the city of Hattiesburg. 

Among those individuals are the uninsured or underinsured patients that were provided quality healthcare from Fellowship Health Clinic. A service of Edwards Street Fellowship Center, the health clinic also filled and distributed over 4,125 prescription medications at no cost to the patient, many of which treat critical health problems and could have devastating results if the patient misses a dose or has to stop abruptly.  

In addition to health, United Way SEMS addresses the needs in education and academic success. Research shows that children from lower-income homes have little or no access to books putting them at an academic disadvantage from the start. With your support, United Way has provided 400 local children with one or more of the 3,150 free books mailed directly to their homes each month through Imagination Library. 

United Way SEMS goes beyond single-issue and creates positive and permanent solutions to lift up our entire community. But we don’t do it alone. Solutions are put into action by working alongside local businesses, nonprofits, government, civic- and faith-based organizations; educators, health providers, retirees, young professionals – all types of people, from all walks of life. Together, we are driving results, transforming lives and building stronger communities. Although the appreciation for your support is beyond words, we want to say thank you.   

You are the ones who inspire change. You are the ones our community depends on. You are the reason individuals and families have the opportunity to achieve success, provide for their families and live happy, healthy lives. 

With sincere thanks, 

Greg Hodges, 2018 Chairman of the Board

United Way of Southeast Mississippi