Understanding the diverse makeup of our community, it is our sincere desire to serve all those in need. United Way of the Pine Belt Region will not discriminate against anyone regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status. We recognize the structural racism, ethnic discrimination and other forms of oppression have contributed to racial disparities that have existed in the past and persist in the present. We acknowledge those inequities are the result of policies and practices that work to marginalize entire populations of people. Let it be made clear that through this adopted policy, United Way of the Pine Belt Region seeks to maximize our external and internal contributions. We shall do this by valuing, utilizing and recognizing everyone’s unique potential in order to more fully achieve the goal of building a safer and stronger community. We unequivocally denounce racism/ethnic discrimination because it undermines the well-being and vitality of our communities. Our United Way Network seeks to dismantle disparities and strives to engage residents and community members, especially those whose voices have traditionally been marginalized, in the shared work of fortifying equity and empowerment. We work with public and private partners to co-create solutions that ensure everyone has the resources, support, opportunities, and networks they need to thrive. Throughout this process, it is our desire to have dedicated and passionate volunteers from all segments of our community. We commit to leveraging all of our assets (e.g., convening, strategic investments, awareness building, advocacy) to create more equitable communities.
THE HISTORY OF UNITED WAY OF THE PINE BELT REGION
United Way of the Pine Belt Region was established on August 8, 1958 under the name Jones County United Givers Fund, Inc. Stewart J. Gilchrist was elected as the first President of the organization. At the time of establishment, Jones County United Givers Fund, Inc. was located right behind the old Laurel Federal on 5th Avenue in Laurel, Mississippi which is now BancorpSouth Bank. The name Jones County Givers Fund, Inc. was changed to United Way of Jones County in 1979. At that time, United Way of Jones County only covered Jones County, Mississippi. The Board of Directors decided to extend their reach and provide services outside of Jones County. Thus, United Way of Jones County became United Way of the Pine Belt Region, Inc. in 1989, and now serves five counties— Covington, Jasper, Jones, Smith and Wayne counties. In 1992, Mrs. Jean Chisholm Lindsey donated a building to United Way of the Pine Belt in honor of the Chisholm family. This building is the current location of United Way of the Pine Belt Region and is located at 401 W Oak Street in downtown Laurel.
UNITED WAY OF THE PINE BELT REGION’S COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY
United Way of the Pine Belt Region is a Non-Profit 501(c)3 Mississippi charitable organization with 23 Partner Agencies in the five county area it serves. The primary duty of the organization is to raises funds for those agencies. Our Partner Agencies are:
United Way of the Pine Belt Region operates through an all-volunteer Board of Directors. This board makes recommendations and acts in an advisory capacity when considering policy, setting objectives, and making administrative decisions for the organization. Committees comprised of community volunteers act on specific concerns, and the professional staff consists of three individuals— an Executive Director, Office Coordinator, and First Call for Help Manager/Office Clerk.
The Executive Committee members include the President, Vice President, Secretary/Treasurer, all committee chairpersons, Regional Campaign chairman and each county campaign chairperson. This committee conducts UWPBR business between board meetings. Other committees include Personnel, Finance, Fund Distribution, Communications, Nomination, Interagency, Strategic Planning, and Building Management. UWPBR has By-Laws for oversight and organizational purposes. Each contributor is considered a member of UWPBR and is given voting rights at the Annual Meeting held each February.
Each year, United Way of the Pine Belt Region’s Partner Agencies are reviewed by the Fund Distribution Committee and Citizens’ Review Panel. This is a group of 25-30 local citizens who volunteer to review the Partner Agencies in order to ensure the organizations are functioning in the best interest of those they serve. The volunteers visit the Agencies and conduct interviews to determine that the funds they receive from your local United Way are invested properly within the community.
The Fund Distribution Committee members consider the funds pledged to United Way of the Pine Belt Region for each campaign year and make the annual recommendations to the Board of Directors based on the Agencies’ needs and other funding received by each individual agency.
There is a two-year process in order to become a Partner Agency with UWPBR. An agency must apply for a Venture Grant for two consecutive years. Each application will be reviewed by the Fund Distribution Committee. If the committee approves the application, it is presented to the Executive Committee for approval of funds, depending on the availability of Venture Grant funds. If the applying agency is approved for funds, it must apply a second time the next year in order to fulfill the consecutive application process. Once two consecutive Venture Grants have been secured, the agency may then apply for Agency status
Of the money United Way raises, 98% stays within the local communities served by United Way of the Pine Belt Region. This covers administrative costs and the annual allocations paid to the 23 partner agencies. Only two percent is used annually to pay United Way Worldwide membership dues. Therefore, your donations to United Way of the Pine Belt Region are working within the five counties and help support the Partner Agencies which provide services in those counties.
United Way of the Pine Belt Region’s mission is “…to increase the organized capacity of people to care for one another.”