United Way seeks input on community issues

Published 8:22 am Friday, September 18, 2009

FRANKLIN—Historically, the United Way has acted as a fundraiser for other non-profit organizations. The Franklin-Southampton Area United Way wants to broaden its scope.

Anne Bryant, the organization’s executive director, said the local United Way has embraced a strategy called “community impact.”

The first step involves finding out what residents believe are the most pressing issues in the community.

“Our vision is, once we decide what we are going to focus on, that we’ll gather the right people together,” Bryant said. She likened it to Western Tidewater Smart Beginnings, which brings community, business and education leaders together to develop strategies to help prepare young children for school.

To get the community’s input, the United Way is conducting community impact surveys at four locations in the community. The survey will focus on issues such as crime and gangs, education, housing and health care.

“We will ask people to rank how important it is that each issue be addressed,” Bryant said.

Two sessions will be held in Franklin and one each in Courtland and Newsoms. Before the surveys are handed out, United Way leaders will explain community impact and what they plan to do with the survey results.

Sessions will be held in the morning and the evening.

Bryant encourages residents to attend one of the sessions and make their voices heard.

“We’re going to try to solve some problems in the community,” Bryant said. “We know this is a huge ambition, but nothing great was accomplished with a small goal.”

Meetings will be held:

Tuesday, Sept. 22 —7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., James L. Camp Jr. YMCA on Crescent Drive in Franklin

Thursday, Sept. 24 — 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Martin Luther King Center on Oak Street in Franklin

Wednesday, Sept. 30 — 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., Courtland Community Center on Florence Street in Courtland

Wednesday, Oct. 7 — 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Newsoms Ruritan Clubhouse on Main Street in Newsoms