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United Way organizing meeting of non-profits groups

UWWA looks to create network of support for community organizations

United Way of West Alabama (UWWA) is holding a meeting for nonprofit organizations in Marengo County on Dec. 13 at noon in the Theo Ratliff Activity Center in Demopolis. The meeting will serve as an introduction between UWWA and nonprofit organizations of the community.

“Nonprofit life is not for the faint of heart — creating a network to share news, stories, events and be able to offer each other support through regular contact is something from which I feel like we could all benefit,” said MaryCris Segura, AmeriCorps VISTA Outreach Coordinator for Marengo County.

UWWA is a “community-sponsored fundraising campaign team,” Segura said. “It’s a fundraising campaign for organizations. It gets resources to parents and kids and it connects people to resources.”

Each year during campaign season, which lasts from Aug. 15 to Nov. 15, UWWA raises money to give out to their partner agencies, which include Salvation Army, Boys and Girls Club, Temporary Emergency Services, Boy Scouts of America, Girls Scouts of America and Turning Point. In 2014, they allocated over $2 million to their 26 partner organizations.

UWWA also supports their internal organizations such as the Success by 6 Initiative. Success by 6 provides at-risk children aged five and under services to ensure that they reach the first grade “healthy, confident and ready to learn.”

Several projects and organizations are included in the Success by 6 Initiative, including the Getting Reader for Kindergarten Calendar, Help Me Grow and Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL).

“Studies show that kids who are read to do better in school,” Segura said of DPIL.

Another internal program that UWWA supports is 2-1-1 Information. It is a 24/7 information referral system throughout the West Alabama area that connects callers with social services and volunteer information.

“You can call 2-1-1 and enter your zip code and the person on the other end of the line will tell you where you need to go,” Segura said.

Social services that 2-1-1 will get callers in touch with include basic human needs resources such as food banks and rent assistance, physical and mental health resources such as health insurance programs and support groups, employment supports and support for children, youth and families.

Those interested in donating goods or volunteer opportunities throughout the community can also call 2-1-1 to be directed to an organization that needs support.

“We are to put them in touch with who they need to talk to,” Segura said.

The information service can also be used in a community-wide disaster or emergency.

Another internal program backed by UWWA is Individual Development Account (IDA), a matched savings program that assists participants in acquiring a lasting asset such as a home, college education or starting or expanding a small business. Participants will receive free financial literacy classes and, at the end of the program, their savings account will be matched with $4,000 up to $6,000 for home or small business or $4,500 for college expenses.

UWWA serves Bibb, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Lamar, Marengo, Pickens, Sumter, and Tuscaloosa counties.

For more information about Success by 6, 211 or IDA, call 211. For more information about UWWA, contact MaryCris Segura at 334-289-2200, 205-826-6540 or marycrisuwwavista@gmail.com.

(This article originally appeared in the Saturday, November 25 edition of the Demopolis Times.)