Season of Wishes: United Way still serving community

Published 12:21 am Monday, December 5, 2016


NATCHEZ — A quote from the October issue of AARP magazine sums up what the United Way means to Maria Bowser.

“A great nonprofit does not fix problems. It reveals the power of a community to solve them,” Bowser recently quoted from the publication.

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For Bowser and other board members of the Greater Miss-Lou, the local organization continues to be the face of the community.

In recent years, the local United Way chapter has been at a crossroads, facing serious difficulties and a need for volunteer support.

In 2015, the group closed its office and has since operated with a small army of volunteers.

Even still, the organization still supports local social service and health related agencies to meet the needs of area citizens in housing, education, employment and other areas, Bowser said.

Partnering agencies include Adams County 4-H; Adams County CASA; Adams County Red Cross; Catholic Charities; Guardian Shelter for Battered Families; Natchez-Adams Council on Aging; Natchez-Adams County Habitat for Humanity; Natchez Football Falcons Youth Club; T.M. Jennings Little League Baseball and Concordia Council on Aging.

Bowser said the local chapter still receives phone calls on a daily basis from people who need some kind of assistance as a result of a personal tragedy or difficult circumstances.

As a volunteer, Bowser answers many of the calls.

“Some of the calls just break my heart,” she said. “Most of the calls I receive are from people in need, looking for help. They are so grateful that someone answered the phone.”

Bowser said she refers many of the phone calls to the 211 system, a resource and information help line spearheaded by the United Way to help people find access to assistance with utilities, food, homelessness, domestic violence and other issues.

Bowser said the main goal of the local chapter is to keep the organization running.  She encourages those who want to help, to either donate directly to the United Way of the Greater Miss-Lou or arrange to have it deducted from their paychecks.

Donations can be mailed to the United Way of the Greater Miss-Lou, P.O. Box 1466, Natchez, MS  39121.

“Whether it is $15, $20 or even if you have just a little change, we encourage people to mail it in,” Bowser said. “Every little bit helps.”