Enthusiasm Leads United Way

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The United Way of East Mississippi is especially happy right now because it reached 101 percent of its goal for the 2004-2005 campaign. In fact, a $5,000 check came in Tuesday.

Fundraising chairman Bubba Hampton credited a giving community, plus hard work and innovation.

"I didn't feel like the database of the people that we were contacting was broad enough. So I basically took the yellow pages of the phone book, went down it and identified businesses, individuals, industry that I thought might make a good contact point. And it's amazing what that turned up," Hampton said

Ultimately, contributions and pledges of $700,000 and a little extra came in, that will be applied to 16 member agencies like the Red Cross Key Chapter, Girl and Boy Scouts, and Wesley House.

"It's important because the contributions that are made to United Way are funds that stay in this community. And they're used by this community and it's governed by a local board who makes decisions about where the funds are going to be spent. So it's an important, integral part of the fabric of the community," said United Way executive director Thad Quarles, who has only been on the job since November 2004.

Quarles also praised a generous community and dedication of United Way staff and volunteers.

And already, United Way is looking ahead to a new fundraising campaign that will begin later this year. Brian Finnegan is the incoming campaign chairman.

"I would encourage everyone to visit these member agencies and see the fantastic job they're doing to meet the needs of those who are so much less fortunate than we are," Finnegan said.

When the time comes, volunteers say they'll be ready to do it all over again.