Year-In-Review: Part 2

We’re thrilled with how 2016 went, so we want to take the chance to look back and celebrate some of our achievements before looking onward to 2017.  We hope you enjoy the ride!

If you missed Part One of our Year-In-Review blog, check it out here!

June was a pretty important month for United Way of South Mississippi, largely due to the fact that we introduced South Mississippi’s first ever Gulf Coast Dragon Boat Festival!  If you aren’t familiar with it, the Dragon Boat Festival was our brand new fundraiser for 2016, and it got over 400 individuals and more than 20 local organizations involved in a battle to see who had the fastest boat!  It was the hottest event on water in 2016 (if we do say so ourselves), and we know you won’t want to miss this years, which has been moved up to April!  If you’re interested, please reach out to marketing@unitedwaysm.org for more information.

After cooling off from Fire on the Lake, we hosted an awesome event at Lazy Magnolia’s First Friday in July, and then we partnered with Junior Auxiliary of Gulfport and Walmart Supercenters from all over the Coast for our Fill the Bus School Supply Drive.  All the schools that received supplies were extremely appreciative of the Coast’s generosity, and groups like Mississippi Power went above and beyond by coming out and helping us Fill the Bus for education.  We’re already planning for next year’s event, so be on the look out!

August was another busy month for us over at UWSM.  Are you seeing a trend by now?  We kicked off our annual campaign, and decided that 2016’s theme would be Give Where You Live because of the Coast’s generosity towards its neighbors and because 99 cents out of every dollar donated to UWSM stays right here in South Mississippi.  We also had our CEO and two board members (Ashley Edwards, Director of the Gulf Coast Business Council and Jonathan Jones, General Manager at Harrah’s Gulf Coast) participate in the State of the Casinos panel.  After that we hosted a disaster preparedness workshop for nonprofits and had three of our team members attend (and feast at) Bowties & Beignets.  What a great month!

In September, as the leaves started to change (and the temperature didn’t) we officially kicked off our campaign with a breakfast at IP Casino Resort Spa.  They were wonderful hosts as always, and they helped jumpstart our campaign with the rest of our pacesetters!  We also ran a flood relief campaign (with the help of WLOX) to raise money for victims over in Baton Rouge.  South Mississippi dug deep, and we were able to raise more than $3,500!  We also received recognition for reaching the bronze giving level from the American Red Cross Southeast Mississippi Chapter and lead the Southeast Regional Gathering for the Campaign for Grade Level Reading!

As the year came to a close in the final three months, we didn’t slow down a bit!  In October we hosted our first ever teacher training, thanks in large part to Mississippi Power’s generous donation of some office space, for teachers in Stone and Harrison Counties!  We were then able to participate in Boo Bash at Jones Park and be a part of the conversations with Memorial Hospital and other community leaders to discuss South Mississippi’s key healthcare needs.

In November we were out at JZ 94.5’s 3rd Annual Kids Safety Fair, and we had a really successful Giving Tuesday drive thanks to your generosity!  We also hosted a second Women’s Leadership breakfast where we introduced Vroom, a platform and FREE mobile app that helps parents find the brain building moments in everyday life, and heard from Senator Brice Wiggins on how to advocated for Early Education funding.  We were also the beneficiaries of Harrah’s Gulf Coast’s Annual Kickball Tournament, which was both a great boost to our campaign and a great event!  We love seeing a little friendly competition between our casino friends!

Finally, in 2016’s last month, we winded down the year by volunteering at the first ever Gulf Coast Marathon!  It was such an inspiration to see runners of all backgrounds and skill levels race together.  It felt like watching United Way – lots of people working together and independently for a common goal – and it was the perfect way to end our year. 

We feel so blessed to have had such a successful 2016, and we know that we owe it all to you!  If there’s anything we left out, we’re sorry!  After all that happened this year, it felt like we could have written a novel, but we tried our best to keep it brief!  Thank you so much for all you did last year, and let’s keep it up as we move into 2017 where we’re sure to find new challenges, big goals and an even brighter future!