Looking back, moving forward


September 22, 2015 marked one year for United Way of the Ozarks under the new leadership and direction of Debi Meeds as President/CEO. “Like so many others – I thought I knew what United Way was in our community – but it is so much more than I realized. This past year I have learned not only about the depth of humanitarian need in our community, but also the programs and agencies working to meet those needs. I believe, more than ever before, that our community is capable of creating a system to meet those needs and to help our under-resourced and struggling.  I am inspired every day to meet the challenge of service,” says Meeds.

As we reflect on the past 12 months, we want to take a moment to share some of things we have learned and our plans to continue to provide hope and help in our communities across the Ozarks. At the end of last year, Debi, her staff, and Board of Directors, began a strategic visioning process. Working with the guidance of Don Harkey and his team from People Centric, the initial task was to examine the mission, vision, and values for United Way of the Ozarks and answer two questions – “Why the United Way?” and “How do we make a positive impact?”

Our new Mission statement: United Way of the Ozarks is improving lives in the Ozarks by uniting community support.

We realize no one agency can do this alone – we are part of a great network of agencies, programs and leaders addressing critical issues and making our community a great place to live, work, and raise a family. We identified six key values to guide our work, Accountability, Collaboration, Leadership, Compassion, Integrity, and Impact.  Our vision, which we continue to refine: Working with others in our community we will take a holistic approach to community impact.  We are making a shift in how we look at quality of life for our vulnerable individuals and families.  A shift from ONLY meeting immediate needs like food and shelter, to creating life-altering change that leads to self-sufficiency and dignity.

We continue to work to define priorities around three things.  1) Strengthening the “Safety Net” of help and support services 2) Focusing on connecting those who want to volunteer their time with opportunities to positively impact our communities, and 3) Working with our partners to create a system that will help children and support families as they work to move out of poverty and build assets for long term success.

We hope you will join us as we continue to move the needle to stronger, healthier, and more successful communities here in the Ozarks. Watch for more information about this journey and learn how you can get involved by following us on social media and subscribing to our newsletter. https://www.facebook.com/uwozarks

About United Way of the Ozarks: A locally governed, volunteer-driven organization whose Mission is to improve the lives of people in the Ozarks by uniting the community. United Way of the Ozarks funds over 45 programs and 15 community initiatives that address critical health and human service needs in 14 counties in southwest Missouri.