The United Way of Union County celebrated its 2022 fundraising campaign on Tuesday at the nonprofit’s annual meeting, where Executive Director Alexis Alexander announced that $1,289,148 was raised through the drive.
The funds raised surpassed the 2021 campaign’s donations by 7%, Alexander told the nonprofit, business and education leaders in attendance at the meeting.
“The bottom line is that we would not be where we are today without each of you, and we are so grateful for that and so grateful for our community,” she said.
The United Way’s annual campaign provides funding to its partner agencies, including the Boy Scouts of America, the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Camp Fire El Dorado, Community Living Arrangements, HOPE Landing, the Literacy Council of Union County, South Arkansas Developmental Center for Children & Families, South Arkansas Fights AIDS, Salvation Army, Turning Point and the Union County Animal Protection Society.
A 2022 report provided by Alexander at the meeting outlines some of the ways funding helped each of the nonprofits achieve their goals last year.
For example, the BGCE provided services to more than 2,200 members across five locations in Union County last year, including through 1,080 take-home food boxes, 30,625 meals, four sports leagues and five college tours. Turning Point provided shelter, food, relocation assistance and other services to 81 victims of domestic abuse in 2021.
“We appreciate everybody’s support in helping us reach another million-dollar milestone… I think this says a lot about the volunteers that we have, the work our agencies do, the commitment of our community, in a time of a strange economy, inflation, the price of eggs – whatever you want to say, I think that this screams that we have a community that cares,” Alexander said.
The United Way was also able in 2022 to provide community impact mini-grants totaling $5,000 to area nonprofits including Camp Fire El Dorado, ECCEL (Early Childhood Center in Experiences and Learning), El Dorado Connection Tri-County RSVP, Fairview Community Outreach, KidsNGolf, Hannah Pregnancy Resource Center, The CALL in Union County, Union County Public Library System and Turning Point. The grants weren’t exclusive to United Way partner agencies, Alexander noted.
Alexander also announced on Tuesday that the United Way will present its annual Power of the Purse fundraiser in a traditional format this year for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic started. The annual event helps fund the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in Union County.
“That is not funded by campaign funds, so we will do our annual Power of the Purse celebration again in April of this year, so I’ll just make a quick little plug for that: if you have any purses to donate, please drop them by the office,” she said. “That’ll be a fun event… I’m really glad to be able to do it in person again.”
The Dolly Parton Imagination Library is a national program founded by the country superstar in 1995. It provides a free book each month to children up to five years old.
The United Way of Union County sponsors the Dolly Parton Imagination Library for children in south Arkansas. In 2022, the 11th year the program was available in Union County, more than 15,000 books were mailed to 1,742 children in the community.
“My favorite part of last year was (when) Union County was recognized as one of the first communities in the state to start the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. So in May, Dolly visited the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion to celebrate, finally, all 75 counties in the state of Arkansas are now in the program,” Alexander said.
The nonprofit found some creative new ways to raise money in 2022, including through a new kickball tournament, which Alexander said she hopes to hold again this year.
“I think everybody has now forgotten about how much it hurt, injuries, and insurance has been paid, so we’re hoping to do that again, because it was a fun way to get together,” she said.
Looking ahead, in addition to the Power of the Purse revival, Alexander said she hopes to continue growing the Dolly Parton Imagination Library this year and expand support for children in Union County.
New officers, board members
New United Way Board members and officers were also announced at Tuesday’s annual meeting. Kevin Hazen, the board’s 2022 president, emceed the event until after the new Board members and officers were approved. The 2023 Board President will be Vange Shoup, of Lawrence Electric.
Other 2023 officers include Vice President Blaklee Ramsey, of Southern Realty Group; and Treasurer Rhonda Murry, of SouthernBancorp. Ramsey filled in for Shoup, who was absent, to present outgoing president Hazen with a plaque noting his service the nonprofit.
“On behalf of the Board, thank you for everything you did this year. I can say that I don’t think anybody would argue that you are a great leader. He’s very stoic and always a wonderful leader, so we appreciate everything you did for us,” Ramsey told Hazen.
Other new Board members include Catherine Nobles Medlock, of MacFarlane Company; Eric Smith, of Chemours; and Jeff White, of Cadence Bank.
For more information about the United Way of Union County, visit unitedwayunioncounty.com.