United Way

Melissa Reabold presents gifts of gratitude to Board President Daryl Fontenot for his service to United Way of Greater Baytown and Chambers County over the past year.

Year’s service highlighted during annual meeting

MONT BELVIEU — The United Way of Greater Baytown Area and Chambers County celebrated meeting its $3.1 million fundraising goal for the 2018-2019 year at the organization’s annual meeting Thursday at Wismer Distributing in Mont Belvieu.

Traci Dillard, director of resource development, said the annual campaign, which is the traditional workplace donations to the United Way effort, brought in $2.8 million, and the remainder was from grants, mostly related to Hurricane Harvey recovery and the Be Well Baytown program, made up the rest.

Patricia Wells, United Way disaster recovery manager, highlighted the efforts of the disaster recovery effort, which is one of the newer initiatives of the local United Way.

Many residents, she said, are not aware that assistance is still available for people whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Harvey.

While the storm is an unpleasant memory for many people in the area, other still live with the effects of the record flooding it brought.

For people who already experience poverty, recovery brings even greater challenges.

So far, she said, 160 people have applied for recovery assistance through United Way.

Of those, 80 have been referred to other organizations to meet their needs. Work has been completed on 31 homes, she said, and 12 are actively being worked on.

Another six homes have been approved for work but not yet begun, and 50 are in the review process.

While the work projects are about making repairs, she said, “We’re focusing not just on the structure of the home, but the people in the home.”

Two other United Way activities that were highlighted were two affinity groups: Emerging Leaders and Women United.

The Emerging Leaders group brings together people 22-40 years old who work to raise awareness of United Way and its services.

One of their efforts is a “poverty simulation” they conducted along with Lee College to raise awareness of the day-to-day struggles and frustrations that come along with being poor.

They plan to conduct more poverty simulation events in the coming year both in the community and in Goose Creek schools.

Jennifer Walsh introduced the Women United Group.

That group’s goal, she said, is to empower women in the local community to achieve financial, professional and personal success.

To do that, she said, women are encouraged to volunteer, give and advocate.

Nick Graham addressed the Day of Caring, which is a coordinated wave of hands-on service across the community in October.

Last year, he said, 700 people participated in 36 projects.

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