Page 7 - Giving Back Guide - 2022
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  program was so successful that it even became the model for a statewide program” Director Rhonda Rhodes says. The main goal is to keep children out of foster care and with their families. Rhodes continues, “These are involved, intense cases, but research shows that in most cases, with their parents is the best place for children to be. There was a gap in services for parents and now we’re the local answer for what they need.”
UWSM’s work takes place in the local community. The staff regularly receives calls in the office from those in need, and the staff has even pooled together their own money when they can, such as when they received a call from a mother of two sleeping in their car in need of gas money, or buying and delivering groceries to a disabled veteran in need of groceries but without transportation. That compassionate and giving spirit
is present in all of the UWSM staff.
Dixie Renault, the Program Director
of Manna Ministries, describes CEO Kathy Springer as a “hands-on CEO. She was able to secure an 18-wheeler full of supplies after hurricane Ida. She and her team came and unloaded the trailer right there with us; she was in the midst; they were involved with us.”
That same care goes into their oversight of grant recipients. UWSM’s Community Impact grants are awarded every two years. Each applicant is visited by a team of community volunteers who assess the applicants and recommend funding to United Way’s Board of Directors. Once the grants are awarded, the UWSM staff are in close contact with the agencies to offer help and to ensure that each grant is working as it is intended. When reviewing grant applicants, UWSM is seeking measurable results to create change
for the better. Funded partners submit quarterly reports, enabling UWSM to track every gift for impact. In the last grant cycle, $430,000 was awarded to twelve local agencies that are moving the needle each day, creating change in South
Mississippi. The next Community Impact grant cycle begins in January of 2023, and RFP (request for proposals) will go out at that time.
So, how does UWSM advance all of these goals? United Way is dependent
on the generous support of Workplace Campaign Partners and individual donors. The annual workplace campaign is by far UWSM’s largest source of incoming funding. The workforce campaign is about more than raising money; it also strengthens connections between employees and their community. The United Way workplace campaign unites employees in all offices or branches of a company, and gives them an opportunity to donate, volunteer and speak out for causes that matter to them. Results are seen in their own backyard, throughout the communities of South Mississippi.
UWSM also holds three yearly events with the sole purpose of raising funds for grants: the immensely popular Dragon Boat Festival, the newly returned CEO Talent Show, and the $50,000 Nifty
50 Raffle. The Dragon Boat Festival is
a yearly tradition that began in 2016
and is an energetic morning full of friendly competition, camaraderie and team-building on the beautiful Coastal waters. The CEO Talent show finds local business leaders’ hidden talents and showcases them on stage for a night of fun and laughter. And their very popular Annual Nifty 50 Raffle just concluded its fifth year earlier this fall, with a $50,000 grand prize and 50 fabulous prizes.
Those in need in South Mississippi
are facing ongoing challenges. Families are struggling to pay bills or purchase gasoline, and more families and individuals are in need of assistance. The only way UWSM can accomplish all of their goals is with the generous support of philanthropists, individuals and business owners who want to make a difference in the lives of families and children in South Mississippi.
December 2022 - Giving Back Guide | 7
If you would like more information about UWSM or to make a
donation, please visit our website at, or call 228.896.2213. You can also complete the donation envelope that is
provided, text UWSMCAMPAIGN to 91999, or scan the QR code with your phones camera.

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