Hopkins County United Way makes a difference. By funding 19 local agencies, HCUW helps single mothers, abuse victims, senior citizens, working people who need a little extra help meeting their families’ needs, individuals returning to the workforce, the disabled, youth and many others.
“United Way literally saves lives,” said Judy Moore, incoming director of Hopkins County Community Chest, describing statistics and situations that motivate her each day to serve in her job.
“From the numbers last year, the ministerial alliance and food pantry fed 3,000 and helped 5,500 people with utilities. Most of all money comes from United Way. It takes a lot of money to make that happen,” she said.
Moore noted a North Texas Food Bank survey shows that “16.8 percent of the population is food insecure — some all the time, some occasionally. Of those, 66 percent are eligible for SNAP — food stamps. Where is the rest getting their food? They make just enough they are not eligible for government programs. Working class has to make hard choices.”
That’s where Community Chest comes in. It helps those people meet those needs, including two-person working families who find themselves struggling to keep up with fixed expenses and buy food when one person’s work hours are reduced.
“Food is one of the first places they cut. They do without food because they figure they have to have a place to live. So, they come in hungry, needing help. It’s mind-boggling to me,” Moore explained.
Community Chest also offers emergency assistance to those who, due to sudden life change or unexpected health of other expenses, can’t afford the cost of utilities, food or medical care. It’s also able to offer aid to those grandparents already on limited incomes who are having to raise their grandchildren, Moore said.
“Last year, United Way was the unsung hero. We fed through Community Cupboard 3,000 families. United Way contributions help even more with emergency assistance, rent, utilities, etc.,” Moore said.
Because of United Way’s contributions, Community Chest was also able to help two women who had no where else to turn. One middle-aged woman prior to receiving help "was literally eating out of dumpsters,” according to Moore. Another, she said, had just gotten out of prison and was having trouble finding a job to pay her way.
“In her youth, at 18-19, she got into drugs. She’s getting out of prison in her late 30s, early 40s. It’s hard enough for you and me to get a job without a police record. We helped her, gave her food, gave help and dignity. Gave prayers. People come in and sometimes grab our hand and ask for prayer. We do. Images like that are what get me up in the morning,” Moore said.
Betty Finn, executive assistant to Hopkins County Health Care Foundation director, also described her experiences with Community Chest.
“I thank each one of you for the contributions, heart and time and work in community to enable organizations to help so many,” said Betty Finn, who 4 1/2 years ago found herself in need of a job. Through Experience Works, a program that utilizes older workers in the workforce, she went to work with Lucy Vaden at Community Chest — a job she held for 2 1/2 years.
Finn explained that working at Community Chest helped build her self esteem, work skills and reputation as a worker. It helped to prepare her for the position she now holds, administrative assistant at Hopkins County Health Care Foundation.
Working at Community Chest, she gained an appreciation for the organization and the people it helps in part thanks to contributions from United Way.
“The majority that come into Community Chest are elderly who have to survive on $100 a month and $16 from food stamps, single moms, a man with no job for the first time in 20 years. Their hearts are not about personal glory. Community Chest really is about needs. It has my heart. In my opinion, Community Chest is this community’s unsung hero,” Finn said.
“Know when you go in the stores [asking for HCUW campaign donations], it’s not about United Way, it’s about doing the Lord’s work,” Lucy Vaden, retiring Community Chest director, told HCUW campaign workers at Tuesday’s weekly report meeting.
Micah Petty also explained Tuesday why she is such a dedicated HCUW campaign worker — she knows first hand the impact it has through the agencies it funds. Petty not only was a recipient of services from some of the agencies HCUW supports, but also until recently was also employed at CANHelp. She was referred by another HCUW recipient group to CANHelp
“United Way is really just special. United Way, the different organizations United Way does for — I was part of it. I was a single mom, when I got the job at CANHelp,” Petty says of the job she held previously when serving as a HCUW campaign worker. “I was searching for a job from Mount Pleasant to Greenville. I was embarrassed when I had to go in [to CANHelp] and ask for help. I told them at CANHelp because I felt like I had to explain why I was there and needed help.”
Lucky for Petty, CANHelp had an opening that was a good fit at that time. She recently started a new job as a case manager for community services at Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services for Region 4, which hasn’t allowed her to dedicate as much time to this year’s HCUW campaign as she’d like. She uses her lunch hour to visit businesses where she’s left donation packets, sometimes returning several times to collect donations for HCUW. Despite her success, Petty won’t soon forget those tough days and the relief she received from HCUW agencies.
“It’s become my passion,” said Petty, noting her commitment to CANHelp and United Way. “So many different parts of the organization helped me. Several other organizations I help with, I see the impact it makes on the community.”
That’s why she’s dedicated to the HCUW campaign, collecting as much as she can in donations, so that the resources will be available for others in need.
“We don’t always see behind the scenes, the people that we have helped. That’s what we want the community to see when we go and collect for United Way — why we do it,” said Chris Voorheese, HCUW campaign chairman.
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