John McMillin: Look at United Way programs reveals thousands helped locally

John McMillin • Updated May 16, 2017 at 6:00 PM

After finishing this year’s allocation meetings, I have to say I wish we could do more. For many of our partner programs, United Way of Wilson County and the Upper Cumberland plays a small part of the overall funding. Frankly, we would love to be able to do more to allow these programs to spend more time helping our friends in neighbors. 

By now, you are probably aware that UWWUC meets every year with several local volunteers to overview each agency that has applied for funding for a program to serve our local population. For many of our partner programs, we play an important role in achieving other funding because many grants specifically ask if they receive United Way funds. Many grant organizations do this because they know that United Way funding is based on an involved process that seeks to reward the best in our communities that help people in need.

Every year during this process, we learn of thousands of local people who have been helped, in some cases, with lifesaving services. As in years past, I like to pass along some of the information we learn from these partner programs.

For example, the Tennessee Poison Center answers up to 300 calls every day. Last year, it received more than 3,300 calls from our service area. Because these calls are handled by professional medical staff, the result of these calls is thousands of dollars in savings for our families and less strain on local emergency rooms.

We also are happy to be a part of Joseph’s Storehouse and its ability to serve 350 to 400 people every month with a large amount of food. Many times this service allows struggling families to get back on their financial feet. Another nutrition program well liked by our donors is Meals on Wheels. Because of donors’ generosity, Meals on Wheels calculates that 70 percent of participating seniors making use of delivered meals are able to stay at home where they are more independent.

Southern STARRS Therapeutic Horseback Riding for special needs individuals is a little more difficult to fully appreciate in the confines of a board room, so this agency actually brought along a pony and a young client who was all smiles. By encouraging people with disabilities to increase skill sets and achieve greater independence, they are more likely to have greater participation in society.

Of course, this represents only a small window of all the programs that applied for funding this year. You can be a part of helping us do more. Visit givetouwwc.org, make a donation or ask us how you can help our local partners.

John McMillin is president of United Way of Wilson County and the Upper Cumberland. Email him at [email protected]

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