A year of 'giving hope'

By Hannibal Courier-Post
Posted: Feb. 7, 2020 10:09 am Updated: Feb. 7, 2020 1:40 pm

HANNIBAL | The United Way of the Mark Twain Area celebrated all of the partnerships and giving that made their outreach successful, as the 2019-2020 campaign drew near its goal with a team effort.

Board Chair Jill Janes welcomed everyone to the meeting, saying that the current campaign has reached 81% of its $425.000 goal, and campaign members are hoping to meet the goal by May 1. Justin Gibson, 2019-2020 campaign chair, recognized Campaign Volunteers, Community Chairs, Special Event Volunteers and people who served on the United Way's Allocation Committee and Professional Division Committee. Forrest Gossett was named 2020-2021 campaign vice president, and his official duties will begin in a few months, as collaborative efforts continued to move the Give Hope campaign ahead.

Gibson commended Leadership Donors — nearly 100 individuals gave more than $500 to the campaign, and eight local businesses donated more than $10,000 in company and employee gifts. United Way board members and partners will continue to share the campaign theme, “Give Hope,” as they work to make a difference in area communities.

Gibson talked about the “Give Hope” stories of people touched by the United Way's efforts through partner agencies providing a variety of outreach across the United Way of the Mark Twain Area's coverage area in Lewis Marion, Monroe, Ralls and Shelby counties. He was inspired by all of the different ways employees, employers and other donors chipped in to help make a difference for people in need.

“It was a lot of fun this year, going to different venues and places talking about ways that we can give hope to those around us,” Gibson said. “We did see countless ways in which hope was given throughout our community, and you'll see that highlighted today as we walk through the presentation.”

At each place setting, small pamphlets shared some of those stories of hope. Susie Yager found herself homeless following a series of unfortunate circumstances, and she moved into the Salvation Army's emergency shelter, receiving the resources she needed to find a place to live. She now gives back to the Salvation Army by ringing bells during the winter and connecting people in need to the agency.

Ron Elliott, of Lewistown, suffered a fall last winter that resulted in multiple leg fractures. He used a wheelchair to get around and took rehabilitation classes at the local nursing home. Heartland Resources provides a hot meal to Elliott each day, and he said he looks forward to visiting with the person who brings the meal each day.

The Hannibal Alliance for Youth Success provides numerous programs for area youth, including Buddy Packs filled with food that go home with more than 400 students each week. Additionally, HAYS will implement a program to help youth who have experienced traumatic events to give them the help they need to avoid substance abuse. The new program will be funded thanks to a $25,000 grant from the United Way Business of the Year, Continental Cement and Green America Recycling.

The United Way Agency of the Year is the Paris Senior Center, an organization that provides activities, games and serves hot meals at the center and delivers meals to homebound residents in rural Monroe County. Damron commended agency administrator Tara Garside for her consistent efforts to help clients connect with the resources they need and joining fellow leaders to hold United Way fundraisers and encourage individuals to donate to the cause.

Damron also gave special recognition to Jim Humphreys, presenting him with the Lifetime Dedication Award for serving as the treasurer for the United Way of the Mark Twain Area since 1983. She thanked retiring board members for their service: Patty Brawner, Joel Dant, Donna Heiser, Rhonda Leake and Maria Mundle. Janes was recognized for her year of service as board chair, and Gibson was commended for his work as campaign chair for 2019-2020.

United Way Board Member Crystal Hawk shared the community members who will be honored for their efforts to give back to others during the second Evening of Philanthropy on Saturday, March 14, at the Star Theater. Betty Anderson was selected for the Lifelong Philanthropist Award for her dedication as a nurse and volunteer at the Hannibal Free Clinic. Pat and Connie Benson were named the Philanthropic Couple for their work throughout the community and across the world. Sharon Webster will receive the Philanthropic Individual Award for her acts of compassion which go beyond her daily duties as director of the Hannibal Free Clinic. Ethan Romig was honored as the Philanthropic Youth for the random acts of kindness he performs every month in the community.

Damron unveiled a new social media program that encourages random acts of kindness. Each person at the meeting had a small card they would give to the recipient, encouraging them to do something compassionate to pay the effort forward.

“It's our hope that we're able to continue building a culture in our community that has caring individuals,” Damron said.

New board members were announced for the next year: Kevin Arthaud, organizational development director with the Hannibal Regional Healthcare System, Shawn Brown, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Hannibal School District; Andrea Campbell, stormwater coordinator for the Hannibal Board of Public Works; Talley Smith, Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney; and Carl Watson, president and chief executive officer of F&M Bank and Trust Co and Farmers and Merchants Bancorp, Inc. Smith expressed her excitement to serve on the United Way board and get involved different projects.

“It's a pleasure to serve, and I think as the new person — I just get to do what I'm told — at least to start with,” Smith said.

As Gossett prepared for his role as 2020-2021 campaign chair, he shared how far the United Way of the Mark Twain Area had come and what the future would bring.

“We've made tremendous progress in the last two years,” Gossett said. “We've done a very good job of reaching out to potential donors and telling the story that the United Way is really about helping people. I look forward to a year when we celebrate the heroes who give to the United Way, which helps our community.”



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