United Way holds Community talks to guide next 3 year funding cycle

Published 12:03 am Sunday, June 10, 2012

Director of Community Initiatives at United Way of South Miss., Aletha Burge, visited Picayune this week for two “Community Listening” meetings in order to better understand issues which are relevant to Pearl River County, provide an information resource for other community development and community service organizations to inform their efforts and to establish baseline data to better track community improvements.

Burge met with groups comprised of various boards, ministers, and government officials at the Senior Center of South Pearl River County and Manna Ministries to discuss community issues and concerns affecting Pearl River County. These meetings will help influence the next three year funding cycle for non-profits.

After giving a presentation of data based on Pearl River and six other counties in the South Miss. area, Burge heard from community members who addressed needs in: Industrial development; continued education in the workforce to support industry the county hopes to attract; early childhood development and intervention programs; as well as, a breakdown of the family unit contributing to the number of children and elderly living below poverty levels.

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Burge said, “Since Katrina, United Way has focused on directing funding to housing needs. Now the time is coming for new directions. That is why we use three year cycles; it allows us to reassess and readjust to prioritized needs.”

Picayune Mayor Ed Pinero said, “Manna Ministries is a great resource for Pearl River County. The county assessment performed by United Way should position us for some great funding opportunities to pay for more offerings at the ministry.”

April Lovelace, Greater Area Picayune Chamber of Commerce director, said, “The meeting was very informative. I was particularly interested in how Pearl River County compared to the lower six counties.

Darlene Adams, Executive Director of the Senior Center of South Pearl River County, said, “It is important to acknowledge that Picayune is a certified retirement community and surprisingly, there are many seniors in our area who are living below the poverty level. We need substantial support for these seniors.”

Burge was impressed with local grass roots efforts to address problems within the community.

Community efforts by groups such as Pearl River County United Coalition, Partners for Pearl River County , the Community Business Advisory Council and Manna Ministries were discussed.

She said, “United Way already locally supports the Red Cross, Boy and Girl Scout programs and Manna Ministries. We are active in Pearl River County.” United Way of South Miss. board member Micah Necaise, said, “United Way is very supportive of our community and I know personally that any monies given to this organization is administered with the highest of ethics and integrity. We are very blessed and fortunate to have an organization like United Way investing in our community.”

Volunteer opportunities are available with United Way of South Miss. Anyone wishing to volunteer can do so via their virtual volunteer program:


The site has a databank of volunteer opportunities in multiple locations. Currently in Picayune, the Senior Center of South Pearl River County is looking for volunteer clerical support and Manna Ministries is looking for a volunteer physician.