By Drew Johnson
As the director at South County Community Services (SCCS), I have seen firsthand how United Way helps people in our community. We benefit from both the local Vicksburg campaign and from the United Way of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region.
Although the organizations are linked, all money raised in Vicksburg stays in the area (minus a small administrative fee). We enjoy working with both groups – each works to build awareness of community-wide issues and work with nonprofit recipients of funding to build competency in things as diverse as strategic planning, building a more engaged board of directors, and helping to meet increased need due to the effects of COVID-19.
Today, however, I want to talk about some of the things that SCCS has been able to do with funding from Vicksburg United Way (VUW). For years, VUW has supported our Senior Outreach efforts – first, as we surveyed the area for local senior need (and found lots!) and later, when we began amping up our outreach efforts to the seniors we found who were isolated and had no other supports.
Because of VUW, we were able to create a position and apply for funding through the senior millage to support it; now, we have a senior outreach coordinator who works four days a week running programs that support seniors, meeting with seniors who need assistance, and connecting seniors to services that are readily available to those living in Kalamazoo or Portage, but that are difficult to access for many people who are isolated and living in rural areas.
This past year, VUW awarded us funding to restart Safe At Home, a program that was piloted in partnership with Rotary in 2019. This program is coordinated by our senior outreach coordinator and aims to help seniors remain in their homes by providing low-cost, safety-oriented home repairs. During the original pilot program, we were able to install assistive devices, reflective address signs, and a ramp. We had a little trouble getting the program off the ground during COVID-19, but now that it is once again safe to go back into seniors’ homes, we are beginning to work with people and do in-home assessments once again. This is a much-needed program and we are excited to be able to offer it – and very thankful for Vicksburg United Way’s support in providing it!
Now, I may be a little biased, but I for one am all in for United Way. They have supported us in providing essential programming that almost certainly would not be available without that support. They have supported other organizations as well – like Generous Hands, Miracle Field, and the Vicksburg Schools – to make this community a great place to live and work.
If you don’t know all about the different nonprofits in the area, but you know that you want to make a difference, Vicksburg United Way is a great place to start. Everyone who receives funding from them has been thoroughly vetted by people living in your community, who know the needs of the area and the people running the organizations. And, just like I am all in for United Way, they are all in for US.
If you are interested in supporting Vicksburg United Way, please follow the link below or scan the QR code. If you want to know more about South County Community Services and what we do for the community, please call 649-2901 extension 4 to talk to me!
By Drew Johnson