United Way donates to health and wellness programs

LaKisha Bryant

LaKisha Bryant

ALBANY, Ga. -- The United Way of Southwest Georgia distributed funds for three community health and wellness programs and projects in the area during a gathering at its headquarters on North Westover Boulevard Tuesday.

The funds were made available from a grant the organization received from Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and Phoebe Community Visions to support the health and wellness segment of its "Community Impact" model, officials with United Way said.

Second Harvest of South Georgia, Albany Advocacy Resource Center and the SOWEGA Council on Aging are the agencies the organization chose to support through the grants.

In all, $14,000 in grants were presented Tuesday.

The four elements of the model that United Way aims to address are education, income, basic needs and health. The organization currently serves 13 counties in the Southwest Georgia region.

"As donors are giving, our money is fed back into agencies (that reach out to the community)," said LaKisha Bryant, president and CEO of United Way. "We want to make sure we are meeting the needs (in the community)."

Second Harvest received a $5,000 grant for its Kid's Cafe program, Albany ARC received $5,000 for its Special Olympics program while the Council on Aging received $4,000 for its Retired Senior Volunteer Program's health and wellness fairs.

Sandra Edge, deputy director of the Albany ARC, said the funds would be used to expand the Special Olympics program so that more people could participate.

"We are thrilled to receive this funding," she said. "This is such an important program. For some, this is the only chance (to travel and compete) like this. We look forward to this so much."

The grant recipients are expected to report back to United Way quantitative and qualitative data regarding the usage of funds and the impact the grants have on the respective agencies and its consumers.

These awards come just before the anticipated fundraising campaign kickoff for United Way's 2012 season. For the 2011 cycle, officials had set a goal of $1.3 million -- $100,000 more than what was raised the previous year, when the goal was $1.5 million.

The campaign kickoff is set for Sept. 6 at the Merry Acres Restaurant and Events Center. Officials with United Way said the event was at 70 percent capacity as of Tuesday afternoon.

For more information on United Way or the upcoming campaign kickoff, call (229) 883-6700.