United Way campaign begins

Lynette Veit, ECB Publishing, Inc.

Audrey Smith of the United Way of the Big Bend (Jefferson, Madison and Taylor counties) visited the Monticello Rotary Club to talk about the United Way and share the impact it is making in Jefferson County.
This year, marking the United Way's 75th anniversary, the Campaign Chairs for Jefferson County are Geri Ann Driggers and Nan Baughman.
“Consider your support for the United Way,” said Smith, pointing out that dollars raised in Jefferson County stayed in Jefferson County, making a difference in the lives of people who live here. For example, in a county where food insecurity is a significant problem, the United Way helped distribute 185,000 pounds of food last year, through its support of partner programs like Second Harvest, Elder Care and the Senior Citizen's Center.
The United Way of Big Bend also supports hospice service and programs like Big Bend 211 that helps connect people with multiple services through just one phone call. In the case of a family burned out of their home, that family is going to need housing, clothing, food and money to get through the crisis, and that help comes from different sources.
“We want to make sure people get the right services,” said Smith. Instead of making multiple calls to multiple agencies, one call to Big Bend 211 connects them to all the agencies they need.
The United Way works by partnering with and supporting local agencies that help people in need, helping them reach and serve even more people. Those agencies include, but are not limited to, Hospice, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Big Bend 211, Ability First, the Boy Scouts, the Jefferson Senior Citizens Center, Legal Services of North Florida, Refuge House and more.
“When we partner together, we all win,” said Smith.
Rotarian Angela Gray, who is on the committee that oversees the application process for United Way funds, explained that the committee vets each agency that applies. Are they meeting their goals, adhering to their mission statement? Who are they serving in the community?
Also, the agencies must reapply each year.
Those who wish to contribute to the United Way of the Big Bend can do so either directly or through payroll deductions.
“We're building stronger, healthier communities,” said Smith. “Because, we see the need...we see the need.”