Page 6 - Giving Back Guide - 2022
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    agencies such as the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Catholic Charities, Goodwill of South Mississippi and many others to form the Long Term Recovery Committee, also known as “Harrison Strong.” Harrison Strong works closely with the Harrison County Emergency Operations Center to assist in coordinating volunteers, as well as taking damage reports from citizens. UWSM’s role is to stand up the call center for citizens to report storm damages. Following Hurricane Zeta, UWSM took over 4,000 calls from local citizens, recorded damage information, and performed follow-ups with citizens ensuring that no call was left unanswered from South Mississippians in need.
According to 2019 Census Data, 19 percent of South Mississippians are
living below the poverty level. Financial stability is one of United Way of South Mississippi’s main focuses. Programs like those at the Moore Community House can make that goal much more attainable. United Way funded programming at Moore Community House helps equip young families and single-mother households with budgeting tools and valuable training to earn a livable wage.
Moore Community House also helps create economic security for women through affordable childcare and early Pre-K. The daily childcare and early Pre-K program for over 165 children, ages 0-3, helps parents feel secure knowing their child is safe and well taken care of daily. Moore Community House Director Carol Burnett describes “by engaging parents with our early education programs, they are more equipped to help their child meet important educational milestones. Through UWSM we are
able to fund services to grant parents the freedom to work without worrying about childcare.”
According to a 2017 Mississippi Department of Human Services report, South Mississippi has the largest number of children in custody and foster care
in the state. Through partnerships with agencies such as CASA of Hancock County, UWSM is dedicated to strengthening family stability. CASA
of Hancock County Director Cynthia Chauvin describes how prior to UWSM funding, dozens of children who were experiencing abuse or neglect went without CASA volunteers and advocates: “UWSM gives us invaluable funding that helps us provide more staff to provide more training, as well as volunteers for children in need. UWSM provides an avenue to educate, communicate, and activate people who want to help kids.” CASA doesn’t just provide court support for children; those volunteers also develop a rapport with the child through monthly in-person contact so that children feel safe & supported.
A child’s future often hinges on the resources that their parents have access to, which is one of the reasons why UWSM sponsors Hancock Resource Center’s Family Navigator Program. This program ensures that parents and family members with children who have been placed in state custody are provided vital legal representation and case management services to reunite their families. “This
  6 | December 2022 - Giving Back Guide | SOUTH MISSISSIPPI Living

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