The Starkville-Oktibbeha Unity League (SOUL) seeks online votes to win a $25,000 grant from State Farm.
The funds will support its work to make Starkville stronger and better by building understanding, relationships and unity among neighbors from different races, backgrounds, beliefs, sexual identity and faiths.
SOUL was selected as one of 200 national finalists from 2,000 applications for the State Farm Neighborhood Assist grant. Voting began Wednesday on www.neighborhoodassist.com, or votes for SOUL can be cast directly on https://www.neighborhoodassist.com/entry/2038187.
The 40 nonprofit groups receiving the most online votes will receive $25,000.
The SOUL grassroots group formed nearly three years ago to develop and implement initiatives to break down barriers and build unity. Its teams work to create community-wide programs to increase understanding and build relationships among diverse neighbors. Initiatives include working to continue to develop the downtown Unity Park as a resource for learning, working with schools and youth groups to develop unity programs, making LGBTQ neighbors more welcome and included, exploring our community’s racial history to build understanding necessary to moving forward in a productive way, and bringing people together to learn from each other through dialogue.
“We live in a wonderfully diverse community that is experiencing growth not only in population, but in quality of life as well,” said Rex Buffington, who co-leads SOUL with Jeanne Marszalek. “As we break down artificial barriers that sometimes divide us, we can make our community stronger and better for all our neighbors.”
Voting will continue through Aug. 27. Individuals aged 18 and over with a valid email address can cast up to 10 votes each day.
State Farm Neighborhood Assist is a crowd-sourced philanthropic initiative that empowers communities to identify issues in their neighborhoods.
“We would greatly appreciate the help of all as we seek this grant for our community,” Marszalek said. “Please take time to go to the website every day from Aug. 18 to Aug. 27 to cast votes for SOUL and encourage others to do the same.”