Looking Ahead at 2018

Thu, 12/28/2017 - 10:41am -- hhimes

I love new beginnings. I love setting goals. I love closing chapters. I love the chance to start fresh.  So as you can imagine, I love New Year's.  Not the actually celebration of New Year's Eve, but the start of an actual new year.  2018.  I'm hopeful and optimistic that 2018 will be a great year for the United Way, our partner agencies and for our community as a whole.

Here are just a few of the great things that will be happening at the United Way of Lamar County over the next 12 months.  First comes tax season.  In addition to offering our VITA program (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) we are now partners in the MyFreeTaxes.com program.  MyFreeTaxes.com is a program of the United Way and is powered by H&R Block.  For those making less than $66,000 in 2017, you can do your taxes online for free at MyFreeTaxes.com.  It is very user-friendly and simple and generally takes less than an hour.  If you need assistance, you can call the helpline at 1-855-698-9435 or chat online.  Help by email is availbe 24/7.  MyFreeTaxes.com can be accessed using a computer, smart phone or tablet.  If you do not have access to a computer or mobile device, you may call the United Way office at 903-784-6642 to set up an appointment to use one of ours.

Next, the United Way of Lamar County will continue to distribute our free FamilyWize prescription savings cards.  These cards are available in English and in Spanish and can be used at most of our local pharmacies.  You do not need to sign up or register to use these free cards.  Just come by the United Way office at 2340 Lamar Avenue to pick up your free card.

This year is the 75th Anniversary of the United Way in Lamar County.  The first organizational meeting of a "community chest" for Paris was held on August 224, 1943.  The first united campaign drive raised $62,000.  $28,000 was given to the U.S.O. for the War Chest and the remaining $34,000 was allocated to four agencies-- The Salvation Army, the Girl Scouts, the Kings Daughter's and the Boy Scouts.  This year's Annual Meeting will celebrate our 75 years in Lamar County with some very special awards and recognitions.  The Annual Meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 21st at noon at the PJC Ballroom.  Tickets are $15 per/person or $100 for a table of ten.  Tickets may be reserved by calling 903-784-6642 or email jenny.wilson@lamarcountyuw.org.

In March we will begin a new grant application cycle for 2019.  501-3-c agencies wishing to apply for funding must attend a Letter of Intent/Eligibility Meeting on March 5th or 6th.  Please call the United Way office at 903-784-6642 to find out times for the meeting.  Grant applications will be sent out to those who qualify on April 3rd and must be submitted by Monday, May 14, 2018.  Any community members interested in participating in the Citizen's Review Panel, a panel that reviews the applications, interviews the applicants and visits the agencies in order to make recommendations on funding, may apply by emailing jenny.wilson@lamarcountyuw.org.  The Citizen's Review Panel will meet June 13-15, 2018 and 2019 UWLC grant allocations will be announced on Monday, June 25, 2018.

The fall campaign will kick-off the first week of September with the 2nd annual Eat-Play-Live event.  The food truck wars were extremely popular this past fall, and they will be back even bigger and better.  The 2019 Campaign will run through the first of November and we will announce the campaign chair and the campaign goal this spring.  

It's going to be a big year here at the United Way of Lamar County! This is just a sampling of the programs and events that the United Way is involved in here in Lamar County.  We are all extremely committed and dedicated to the mission of the United Way and making a community impact in the areas of financial stability, health and education.  We know that when we LIVE UNITED, working together, sharing resources, collaborating on projects, then and only then can we see our commuity move forward towards real change.

I'm looking forward to 2018 and I hope you are too!


Jenny Wilson

Executive Director

United Way of Lamar County