United Way of Northeast Mississippi began in 1961 as a group of interested citizens of Lee County, Mississippi, who were excited about the potential for growth in the area. The community was poised to become a cornerstone of the furniture manufacturing industry, and these citizens wanted to make sure that the growth was managed well–that we maintained the “small town feeling” while having “big city opportunity.” Part of what we now call the “Tupelo Spirit” fostered a sense of volunteerism and giving, from the highest paid corporate executive to the minimum wage line worker. There were many worthwhile local agencies serving local citizens in the growing Tupelo and Lee County area, and each individual should be able to learn about and support the work being done by these agencies.
The first meetings of what was then known as “Community Chest” were held with only about twelve board members and a recording secretary. The total budget for the organization was just over $100,000, with $77,624 in allocations given to agencies serving clients in Lee County, Mississippi. There was also a small amount budgeted for office expenses and reserves for absorbing pledges that were uncollectible.
Since those early days, we have grown into one of the most well-known and well-respected charities in our area. In 2007, we received the highly-regarded status of being an officially accredited charity by the Better Business Bureau in our state. We have undergone two name changes to further extend and specify the areas in which we serve.
Now known as United Way of Northeast Mississippi, we continue to foster the spirit of our founding fathers to ensure that every person in our region has the opportunity to live a great life. We invest in programs and agencies in the areas of Academic Success, Family Stability, and Health & Wellness — the building blocks of a good life. As a leader in the community, we also convene community stakeholders to tackle the community issues that affect all of us and to innovate new solutions to old problems.