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UNITED WAy volunteers use technology to combat human trafficking

september 27th, 2017

 

JACKSON, Tenn. — The United Way of West Tennessee is lending a helping hand to authorities in the fight against human trafficking.

Hotel rooms across the country are being used as safe havens for human traffickers and their victims. One snap at a time, volunteers are using their phones to help in the cause to fight human trafficking.

Armed with a smart phone, the United Way and its volunteers work to prevent human trafficking in West Tennessee. With the help of an app called Traffickcam.

“The app was created for people, as they go check in to hotel rooms to download the app,” President United Way West Tennessee Scott Conger said. “Snap a few pictures, upload it to the database.”

Wednesday night youth volunteers from City Fellowship Baptist Church did just that. Taking pictures inside hotel rooms. So if a victim is photographed there, the location can be identified by police.

“People post things on for sex trafficking that they’re monitoring,” Conger said. “They can run those algorithms and find out, hopefully, where there individuals are and prevent something bad from happening.”

With hotels permission they were able to hit eight locations Wednesday. Which is just a start for our area, that could be a target being near a major highway.

“We have I-40 that runs right through Jackson,” Conger said. “The ability to move people is very easy. So we need to make sure we’re doing what we can to prevent that from happening.”

Statistics show human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry, surpassing illegal drugs and guns.

Between 14,000 and 17,000 people become human trafficking victims in the U.S. each year.

“We need to make sure everyone in West Tennessee is on the same page,” Conger said. “We want to work to end human trafficking and end slavery in 2017.”

The United Way’s goal is to get images from all Madison County hotels, then branch out to hotels in its 14 county service area.

According to government statistics, human trafficking is a $32 billion-a-year industry.

To see the original story and video footage visit: HERE.


 



UWWT ANNOUNCES NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

AUGUST 23RD, 2017

 

The United Way of West Tennessee is excited to launch a new initiative this month: the 365 Small Business Circle. This initiative seeks to provide small businesses — for whom large scale workplace campaigns may not be feasible — an opportunity to give back to their communities. “When most people think of United Way supporters, I’m afraid they think of large-scale corporations and businesses,” said Ashley Gooch, Resource Director, United Way of West Tennessee. “But since I’ve started here, I’ve realized that each county we represent has its own personal character, and some of the greatest assets of each place are the small businesses.”

 

This campaign season, United Way of West Tennessee’s goal is for 50 small businesses to become founding members of the 365 Small Business Circle by committing to donate $365 or more. Benefits for member companies include a window decal identifying a business as a member, recognition on United Way of West Tennessee’s social media channels and website, and an invitation to the organization’s annual Community Celebration breakfast, where top giving companies are recognized.

 

“We’ve already received commitments from businesses,” said Kristen Chambers, Resource Director, United Way of West Tennessee. “We are excited to welcome Johnson-Williams Funeral Home from Newbern, Woodstock Bake Shop from Jackson, Wendell Alexander Realty from Dresden, and Little’s Jewelers from Jackson as founding members of the 365 Small Business Circle.”

 

For more information about becoming a 365 Small Business Circle member, visit uwwt.org/smallbusinesscircle or call the United Way office at (731) 422-1816.  United Way of West Tennessee fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community. 

 



UWWT WELCOMES NEW BOARD MEMBERS

AUGUST 9TH, 2017

United Way of West Tennessee kicked off a new fiscal year on August 1st and with the new year came some new additions to their board of directors. The United Way of West Tennessee board is comprised of 25 community volunteers from across the 14-county region the organization represents, including three seats which are set aside for the top three contributing companies.

 

This year United Way of West Tennessee welcomes Judy Long, President & COO, First Citizens National Bank, as board chair. They also welcome new additions Stuart Hirstein, Head Master, University School of Jackson; Braxton Williams, Senior VP, Gas Division, Jackson Energy Authority; Dr. Eric Jones, Superintendent, Jackson-Madison County School System; Joseph Butler, Consultant, Bethel University and Savant Learning Systems; Bill Rawls, Mayor, City of Brownsville; and Jake Bynum, Mayor, Weakley County. Charley Deal, Associate Vice-Chancellor, UT Martin, also returns for a new term.

 

“We are blessed to have such an active board supporting us in our work,” said Scott Conger, President & CEO, United Way of West Tennessee. “They believe in our mission and genuinely want to see long-term positive change happen in each of their communities.” 




VITA OFFERS FREE TAX ASSISTANCE FOR LOW INCOME INDIVIDUALS
MAY 8th, 2017


Each year, Americans lose millions of dollars in refunds during tax return season.  United Way of West Tennessee is committed to helping West Tennesseans keep their hard-earned money.

From January through April, United Way of West Tennessee partners with BancorpSouth in Jackson to provide the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA), which provides free tax preparation for households with income below $64,000.  Certified preparers process refunds (by appointment only) on Tuesday nights and Saturdays. "We are honored to partner with United Way to provide the VITA program," Doug Roth, Jackson Market President, BancorpSouth.


Because of the VITA program, clients served can rest assured they are getting the credits they deserve while saving on the cost of tax preparation. This tax season 13 volunteers gave 365 hours of service and found $290,678 in refunds for clients.

 

We currently serve over 200 households per year through our VITA program - but the need in our community is limitless.  If you are interested in becoming a volunteer and increasing our capacity to serve during tax season, please contact Senior Resource Director Pat Ross at (731) 422-1816 or by email at patross@unitedway.tn.org.


FOURTH ANNUAL FIRST LADIES' LUNCHEON
February 13th, 2017


The United Way of West Tennessee Women’s Leadership Council is thrilled to announce the Fourth Annual First Ladies’ Luncheon to be held Thursday, March 2nd at 12:00 p.m.  The Luncheon serves as the organization’s largest fundraiser. Each year, United Way of West Tennessee welcomes larger numbers of West Tennessee’s most outstanding ladies (and men, too!) to the Jackson Fairgrounds to celebrate United Way and the impact it makes in our communities.

 

This year’s event will feature keynote speakers Brad & Kristi Montague, the creative minds behind Kid President. With their work, they strive to joyfully rebel against the way things are and attempt to create the world as it should be. The event will also showcase the musical talent Caty Davis, Miss Lexington.

 

Individual tickets and table sponsorships can be purchased on United Way of West Tennessee’s website: www.uwwt.org/FirstLadiesLuncheon or by calling the office at (731) 422-1816. All table sponsorships must be purchased by Wednesday, February 22nd to be included in the printed material.

 





CHRISTMAS PARTNERS NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR HOLIDAY ASSISTANCE

OCTOBER 12, 2016

 


Christmas Partners will soon be accepting applications for holiday assistance at Salvation Army at 124 Allen Avenue in Jackson.  The program, in its 16th year, is a partnership of the United Way of West Tennessee, the Knights of Columbus/St. Mary’s Church, the Salvation Army, Toys for Tots, Area Relief Ministries, Regional Interfaith Association, the Brighter Christmas Fund and several other nonprofits and faith/civic based organization and is designed to prevent duplication of services during the holiday season.  Applications will only be accepted in person from 9-11 am on the following dates: October 11-13, 18-20 and 25-27.

 

Applications will not be accepted over the phone.  Applicants must apply in person at Salvation Army on one of the dates listed above.

 

To be considered for assistance, applicant must provide photo identification, a Social Security card for each person in the household, a Department of Human Services letter (must show dollar amount of benefits received), Section 8 certification letter and/or lease agreement, current rent/mortgage receipt and utility bill, proof of income (this can include a check stub, child support, unemployment, VA, Social Security, and/or SSI) and a birth certificate for each child eligible for assistance.  Only children age 14 and under will be considered for assistance.

 

Applicants or organizations interested in joining this partnership to eliminate duplication of services during the holiday season should contact Pat Ross at United Way of West Tennessee –patross@unitedway.tn.org or 731.422.1816.

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UNITED WAY OF WEST TENNESSEE

1341 North Highland Avenue
PO Box 2086
Jackson, TN 38302


Phone: 731-422-1816
Fax: 731-422-1872