Sunday May 9th, 2021 7:05PM

For Goodness Sake: United Way of Hall County “here to bring resources together”

By Lauren Hunter Multimedia Journalist

The purpose of United Way of Hall County can be found even within its name- find a way to unite people for the benefit of the community.

“We are here to bring resources together, to look at community issues and ensure that we are meeting the needs of those underserved in our community,” said Jessica Dudley, president and CPO of UWHC.

Dudley explained that UWHC acts as a collaborator by bringing together organizations and Hall County non-profits through a variety of programs; UWHC even directly funds some of these programs. Currently, UWHC funds 37 programs with 25 organizations around the county.

But Dudley said that UWHC works with every non-profit in Hall County in some way or another.

One of the most recent programs created by UWHC is their One Hall initiative. This initiative brings various organizations together to look deeper into the community’s poverty statistics and then create solutions.

Dudley said that some progress has already been made through the initiative. One example she used is the Gainesville Police Department clinician, who works with the department to assist needy families encountered on a non-criminal call. 

Dudley said that creating beneficial programs like these are part of the reason why UWHC is so important in the community.

“When you look at the needs of Hall County, they are so diverse,” she said. “We have so many different areas throughout the county and so what United Way does well is understanding what those needs are and bringing the right players to the table.”

Meghan Mitchell, who oversees resource development for UWHC, said that the community can get involved in the initiative, as well.

“How you can get involved with United Way of Hall County is you can certainly give, donations help so much,” said Mitchell. “You can also volunteer…and finally advocate, advocacy is a big part of United Way and our One Hall initiative allows community members to come together and advocate for a cause they’re passionate about.”

The initiative is broken down into five groups including health, education, financial stability, mental and behavioral health and advocacy. Representatives from the organizations choose which area of the initiative they want to join based on their organization and passion.

And just like every other non-profit in the area, UWHC has had to make adjustments to meet needs during COVID-19 while also following health protocols. 

In a typical year, staff host a large gathering to kick off their annual fundraising campaign, but due to gathering limitations, they created the first Week of Caring. 

For the week of September 13 through 18, community members were encouraged to participate in a service project with a local non-profit. These projects included on-site options where social distancing was observed and at-home projects such as writing letters to teachers.

Mitchell shared some statistics from the Week of Caring. She said that more than 200 volunteers completed eight on-site service projects and 11 remote projects. These volunteers represented 16 companies from the community, as well.

While Mitchell said that the Week of Caring was a success, she said that she also hopes it will encourage community members to keep volunteering throughout the year.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the community to learn more about the needs in our community and inspire them to volunteer year-round,” she said.

While Dudley and Mitchell both said future projects of UWHC are pending based on the current health crisis, something that is certain is the organization being there to help.

“[Our focus is] just keeping everybody remembering that your non-profits are still here, your folks who are still in need and underserved are still here and we just have to do our best,” said Dudley.

“United Way was made for issues like COVID-19,” said Mitchell. “We are made for overcoming these barriers in our community and so we just plan to be here.”

More information about United Way of Hall County is on their website.

For Goodness Sake is a monthly series highlighting non-profits in the North Georgia area. Have a non-profit that you would like to see featured? Email the author at [email protected]!

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