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With area needs unrelenting, United Way launches campaign


Last September looked so bleak for the United Way of Mid & South Jefferson County they had no kickoff for their 2017-18 annual funding drive. In fact, they didn’t have an office.

In those early days after Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey, the United Way crew set up shop on folding tables in front of their uninhabitable headquarters, seeking help for part of this county where most of the buildings had been flooded.

This year is better, at least for the organization. United Way recently moved its staff of four out of their temporary, 360-square-foot HQ, which had been located in a trailer in the parking lot, and back into their refurbished building.

But the United Way’s staff worries less about their comfort, more about the people still battered and seeking recovery from the 2017 storms.

“The need is greater,” known and documented, CEO Janie Johnson said.

Many residents lacked the right insurance to recover from the flood. The county itself continues to await federal help, which has been slow in arrival.

All of that makes fund raising for this year’s United Way annual drive as important as last year’s. Some reliable donors are still too hard-pressed after the storm to give as they have in the past. But the need continues unabated.

Johnson said the storm has sent the needs into new directions. For example, she said, the women’s shelter is more hard-pressed this year because, in the wake of catastrophic events like the storms, family violence increases.

There’s a new agency, too, to help this year: Southeast Texas Food Bank, which not only serves area people on a daily basis, but also operates a “backpack” program to send food to needy homes for the weekends.

United Way of Mid & South Jefferson County will launch its 2018-19 drive at 11:45 a.m. Friday at the Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center at Lamar State College Port Arthur. There, agency representatives and board members and other United Way enthusiasts will get a report about last year and hear about this year’s needs and goals.

We think it’s worthwhile to know who your United Way helps: Adaptive Sports for Kids, Boys’ Haven of America, Boys Scouts, Capland Speech Therapy Center, Communities in Schools, Community Care-Prayer Outreach, Groves Senior Citizens, Hospital Center Catholic Charities of Southeast Texas, Nutrition & Services for Seniors, Port Neches Senior Center, Rape & Suicide Crisis Center, Salvation Army, Samaritan Counseling Center, San Jacinto Girl Scouts, Shorkey Center, South East Texas Food Bank, Southeast Texas Hospice, United Board of Missions, Willie Carter Outreach Center, Women & Children’s Shelter Family Service of Southeast Texas, YMCA.

You can be part of this effort. Call 409-729-4040 or go to unitedwaymsjc.org to learn how.