Greater Valdosta United Way uses funds to help homeless communities through funding non-profits

Valdosta United Way aims summer program at helping homeless communities
Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 12:15 PM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - Due to the success of their 2022 Annual Campaign, Greater Valdosta United Way board members have distributed an additional $25,000 to eight of their partnered non-profits.

Multiple research platforms say Georgia is ranked within the top 10 states experiencing a homelessness problem in America.

“With the increase of individuals and families that have been contacting us, or coming into the shelter, we’re staying full more often,” Yurshema Flanders, Lowndes Associated Ministries to People (LAMP) executive director, said. “So this is helping us buy food and get transportation for individuals to work. Some funds have been depleted in some areas, so this came right on time.”

The homeless shelter in Valdosta, LAMP, can provide shelter for up to 65 people. Currently, they tell WALB they’re completely full. With this being the end of their grant year, the additional funding was crucial.

“To have someone on that root level that is trying to understand, that gets involved with you and put themselves in that position is important,” Flanders said. “We’re blessed to have Greater Valdosta United Way (GVUW) in this area with that passion for people.”

LAMP is also a recipient of the Summer Support funds.
LAMP is also a recipient of the Summer Support funds.(Source: WALB)

This is the first year they’ve launched Summer Support Funds. Recipients must use the funds within GVUW’s focus areas, which include housing and shelter, youth after-school programs, mental health training and awareness and basic needs.

“It’s been very expensive with inflationary pressure to run organizations. The increased heat, food costs and all the challenges they’re facing,” Michael Smith, Greater Valdosta United Way CEO, said. “If these non-profits can focus on just helping people, and not so worried about fundraisers and raising money, it creates efficiencies and takes a lot of stress off everybody.”

The future of the young people in many communities is another topic of conversation in South Georgia. Now that summer is mostly over for kids, a South Georgia non-profit is focusing on after-school programs.

“Lanier County was just ranked as the number one county in our state with poverty,” Ryan Tuten, executive director of the Youth Impact Center, said. “It’s such a challenge in our community. Especially a rural community that has very few opportunities for our kids. You can’t even express with words how needed these funds were. This is just so needed. To keep kids off the street, and giving them the opportunity to get their homework done, a hot meal, mentorship, tutoring, just building relationships up with these kids.”

Partnered non-profits who received funding outside of the Youth Impact Center include LAMP, American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Jacob’s Ladder, Partnership Health and Living Bridges Ministry.

“Looking at the needs and our four focus areas, childhood trauma, giving people a loving safe stable home to them build off of, etc.” Smith,said. “Thank you to donors that care and support the campaign. We were able to do this because of y’all, and hopefully, we’ll be able to give out even more during the summer.”

The Youth Impact Center in Lanier County is one of eight non-profits that received funding.
The Youth Impact Center in Lanier County is one of eight non-profits that received funding.(Source: WALB)

GVUW’s fall campaign starts now. They’re encouraging businesses to lend a hand by participating in a United Way Workplace Campaign.