United Way Announces Grants for Vicksburg Agencies

By Sue Moore

Laura Howard, chair of the Vicksburg United Way fund drive and allocations committee has announced that $12,750 will be distributed to two Vicksburg agencies. Generous Hands (GHI) will be awarded $1,750. South County Community Services (SCCS) will receive $11,000 to be used in the coming year.

The awards are tied together in that the two social service agencies have a partner program to assist children with back-to-school supplies. The allocation includes a pilot program with GHI and SCCS for a First Day Shoe Fund.

The grant will be used to help cover the cost of athletic shoes for each registered child. They will walk away with a brand new fitted pair of shoes during the annual Backpack Bonanza in August. Families have told Generous Hands and South County that without this event, their children would not have the supplies they need when school begins in September, according to Sheri Louis, GHI executive director.

South County’s senior outreach plan, “Aging Well in South County Phase 2” will receive the $11,000 allocation. It will continue the current effort of providing short-term senior assistance along with other fully-funded SCCS services. Executive Director Danna Downing said the agency is striving to develop a sustainable approach to deal with future challenges and opportunities for the senior population and the community at large. A survey of seniors has been conducted; results will be tied to the findings of specific needs for seniors.

Howard also announced plans to retire from leadership of the United Way fundraising efforts in Vicksburg, effective August 1. She has been on the committee and served as its chairperson for over 30 years while being employed as system director for ProHealth and Rehabilitation for Bronson Hospital and previously operations manager of Bronson Vicksburg. She will be greatly missed according to Alisha Siebers, United Way of Greater Kalamazoo and Battle Creek’s associate for corporate relations.

“We have such a strong, dynamic committee that Howard has headed these many years, filled with folks who understand the needs of Vicksburg. I also want to make sure that the committee continues. I wouldn’t dare make allocations without a Vicksburg committee there to help with the decisions. My hope is to add a few new members who can learn from the group’s collective expertise,” Siebers said.

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