United Way Benefits South County Community Services

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Danna Downing, executive director of South County Community Services, receives a check from Laura Howard, Vicksburg’s United Way campaign chairperson in 2016. With her is Mike Larson, former head of the areawide Kalamazoo Battle Creek United Way, Alisha Siebers, an associate for corporate relations of the areawide agency; Diane Durian, Senior advocate for SCCS.

By Sue Moore

Mike and Gail Aitken are two people who have called on South County Community Services (SCCS) in the past. With support from a grant from the Vicksburg United Way Allocations Committee in 2016, the agency was able to hire Diane Durian as the senior outreach person who advocates for the Aitkens and many others who may need help with food, transportation, crisis intervention and financial assistance.

“I always have a listening ear” when working with seniors Durian said. “I’m looking out for their best interests with hands-on intervention when it is necessary. I feel that I can really make a difference through this program.”

In 2017 SCCS conducted interviews with area seniors, analyzed current and past emergency assistance records and has taken the information gathered by Durian to identify and prioritize senior needs for future programs. The SCCS Board will be using that information to create a guiding document for future services for seniors as it prepares the 2018 budget. “Diane has completed a monthly average of 40 sessions as senior outreach coordinator and her efforts have been invaluable for future planning,” said Downing.

SCCS receives about 50 percent of its funding from United Way. With United Way’s basic need support, SCCS increased Metro community service van rides by 48 percent, increased veteran assistance sessions by 44 percent as well as providing crisis intervention and financial assistance.

The local campaign for United Way has set its sights on a month-long effort to raise funds for the nonprofit agencies in the Vicksburg school district area. The campaign begins with the Fabulous Flapjack Breakfast on Wednesday, October 18 at the Vicksburg United Methodist Church from 7-10 am. The event is open to the public. It is a fun and festive affair that includes a great breakfast and flapjack flipping contests for entertainment. United Way pledges and donations of any amount are welcome that day. The official campaign in slated to end on Monday, November 20. “Every dollar counts” is this year’s rallying call.

United Way has changed its process to help residents understand how United Way works in the local community. All monies raised locally will be used locally except for overhead costs that support the local campaign. A 13 percent portion for professional staff time, print and social media support and administrative assistance provided by the United Way of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo’s regional campaign will be deducted from local monies raised. The Vicksburg Foundation, which contributed about 25 percent of the local monies in 2016 and the current members of the Vicksburg United Way committee are on record stating they are very pleased with the new arrangement.

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