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Invest into the LOU community this holiday season

According to Vince Lombardi, “the measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.” As we come together to celebrate with friends and family this holiday season, I ask that we all seek to embody the words of Coach Lombardi by investing our time, talents and resources to make a meaningful impact throughout the Lafayette-Oxford-University (LOU) community.

Dec. 1 marked my one-year anniversary as executive director of the United Way of Oxford & Lafayette County (UWOLC) and I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the donors, agencies, volunteers, advocates and staff who comprise our local United Way team. In a time that is too often plagued by divisiveness and discord, I am grateful to live as well as serve in a community that unites to help those in need. Words cannot adequately articulate my appreciation and it is a privilege to partner with so many to advance our organization’s mission, which is to improve lives and meet community needs by uniting people and resources.

While the LOU community thrives and prospers in so many ways, its collective needs continue to grow. Significant budget cuts and unmet needs occurred throughout Oxford and Lafayette County in 2017 as the funding requests received by the UWOLC exceeded the amount of grant dollars awarded by nearly $275,000. In order to address the substantial disparity, our local United Way has sought to enhance our outreach efforts and better convey the accomplishments of our partners such as Leap Frog, Boys & Girls Clubs of North Mississippi, Meals on Wheels, Special Olympics, and Interfaith Compassion Ministry.

Through its partner programs and coalitions, the UWOLC touches every age group and demographic in our community. Whether a person has one dollar to give or a million, our local United Way provides the means to support several outstanding initiatives through a single donation. Ninety-nine cents of every dollar raised stays in our community and funding decisions are made by local volunteers who give of themselves to make a significant difference in the lives of others. Accountability is essential and our organization maintains high standards for its investment process as well as the programs receiving funds.

As our agency cannot award funds it does not receive, fundraising is vital and we seek to communicate the worthwhile outcomes that result from the outstanding support we receive in hopes of adding new members to our local United Way team. Thank you again to our tremendous partners as the UWOLC is proud to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars back into the LOU community each year to promote health, education and financial stability as well as ensure residents’ basic needs are being met.

Whether you contribute your time, talents, or resources, supporting your fellow man is one gift that will reap returns rather than end up being returned. So, as we all shop local this holiday season, I encourage you to please donate locally as well. There is no wrong size when it comes to helping your community.

Kurt Brummet is the Executive Director of the United Way of Oxford and Lafayette County.