BONIFAY — Regional Director of Resource Development at United Way of Northwest Florida Ron Sharpe was the guest speaker for the Bonifay Kiwanis Club on Jan. 23 and touched on the many services provided in Holmes County and what United Way does to help fund those services.
“First I need to recognize some local volunteers that help us with United Way,” said Sharpe.
Julia Bullington with the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce, Melissa Willard with Regions Bank, Fran Haithcoat with Wells Fargo and Brenda Blitch from Doctors Memorial Hospital.
“What we have are individuals are a group of volunteers who help us raise the awareness of United Way agencies in our community,” he said. “One of the most important tasks that they do is funds and distributions.”
Through United Way, said Sharpe, they raise money for the 31 agencies that serve the needs of Holmes County’s community.
“Money that is given or donated to United Way for Holmes County,” he said. “That is something that I absolutely love about United Way. The dollars stay local.”
You can give personally or through your employer, said Sharpe.
“When it comes to United Way, it’s like a grant and someone, not a paid staff member, but someone within your community will look at the dollars, they will look at the grant request and our agencies will fill out an application, a grant application, they tell us how much we need, how they’re going to use the money and that whole process,” said Sharpe. “Then our individuals from this community look to see what they can do to leverage those dollars.”
Those individuals for Holmes County’s community were recognized as Bullington with the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce, Willard with Regions Bank, Haithcoat with Wells Fargo and Blitch from Doctors Memorial Hospital.
“They take those funds, they look at the grant requests and ask how can we leverage the most dollars to their fullest potential,” said Sharpe. “For example, you guys are familiar with Life Management. They do a lot of great work within the six counties that we serve.”
One program Life Management has is an adoption care program, he said, and every dollar given to them in that grant they get $25 in matching funds.
“That’s pretty powerful what you can do with just a dollar,” said Sharpe. “Early Learning Coalition is really a silent partner; not many people knowing what they do, but when you go by a daycare center they are the agency behind the scenes that does a lot of great work within the community. They have a school readiness program for the children and ever dollar we give them they get $17 in matching funds.”
Another example was the Council on Aging Meals on Wheels Program and for them every dollar given to them they get $9 in matching funds.
He explained that there are 31 agencies that serve the needs of Holmes County, but many aren’t known about because they do not have a physical location in Holmes County.
“I can tell you they can assist the citizens here even if they are stationed in Panama City,” he said. “One example is Family Services and last year they helped over 50,000 people and I’m not talking about lazy people or people just needing a hand out. This agency alone do their due diligence when people come in and say they need help with their power bill because they just got laid off, or with a food pantry or clothing.”