The United Way of Lowndes County is continuing to seek public input, with a survey designed to ascertain community needs and prioritize the agency’s funding allotments.
The 18-question survey asks local residents to rank the areas they feel are most important, from youth services to housing, transportation, health and quality of life.
The last comprehensive study was conducted nearly two decades ago by the Junior Auxiliary of Columbus. At the time, delinquency prevention, education and unemployment topped the list of perceived unmet needs. Lack of affordable health care, a shortage of recreational facilities and teenage pregnancy were also concerns.
Currently, United Way of Lowndes County provides a portion of funding for 18 local agencies, with appropriations divided into four categories. The largest amount, 29 percent, goes toward agencies which provide crisis intervention and disaster relief.
The distribution is evenly split at 25 percent apiece for agencies helping youth and children and agencies which contribute to lasting change in the community and in people’s lives. Health and quality-of-life issues receive the smallest allotment, 21 percent.
Those allotments may change depending upon the needs identified in the new assessment and discussed with focus groups consisting of human services providers, youth organizations, educators, law enforcement and other community members.
United Way Executive Director Jan Ballard said it may take between one and two years to develop a comprehensive plan.
To take the 10-minute online survey, visit unitedwaylowndescounty.org. To have a paper survey sent via the U.S. Postal Service, call 662-328-0943. Surveys will also be available at various community service agencies in Columbus.