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For 15 years, Annetta Holmes has encouraged Hardin County residents to “Live United” by donating to the United Way, but she will be stepping down as the organization’s director with the new year.
Holmes said she will miss working with the dedicated people who oversee the 21 agencies, but she is setting aside more time to spend with her husband, Jim.
When she took on the director’s job in 1997, Holmes replaced Gerald McNutt, who had been held the job since the United Way began in Hardin County 30 years earlier. She was the training director for the Girl Scouts of America and was traveling throughout a 10-county area in her job. The travel took Holmes away from her family more than she and Jim wanted, so when McNutt retired, she applied for and received the local job.
Holmes became acquainted with the United Way through her work in the Girl Scouts.
“There have been a lot of changes,” she said. “Gerald would not recognize it as the same organization.”
Many of the changes involved additional paperwork and reports to the state, national and international United Way, she said. Holmes also has overseen changes in the board and the agencies it serves, she said.
When she arrived, the books for United Way were kept in a legal book. One of her first jobs as director was to computerize the accounting system, recalled Holmes, which are required to be audited annually.
The board decided how the funds collected were to be divided, Holmes said.
“Agencies didn’t apply for funding,” she said. “The people on the board got together and divided up the money for the agencies.”
Over the years, Holmes said, the agencies needing funding have come and gone for various reasons. At its peak, the United Way of Hardin County worked with as many as 27 agencies. Today there are 21 agencies funded with money going to 28 programs. One agency may have multiple programs, the director said.
Each agency director now meets with board members, who come from various backgrounds in the county, where they explain how the funding is used.
“The board members were impressed with the passion of the people running the agencies,” said Holmes. “And the agencies were thrilled to be able to explain what they do. This gave them a chance to answer questions from the board.”
It seems as the need is always greater than the amount of money donated, said Holmes, but that was never more apparent than with this year’s campaign. The local United Way came in $43,000 under its goal.
“I had hoped to leave on a high note,” said Holmes.
She has agreed to assist the new director, Darlene Foreman, get through the annual reports and grant applications.
Holmes said she plans to spend more time with Jim, who has been retired for 10 years. The couple is active in the historical re-enactments called “rendezvous.” The events are a living history lesson on how life was lived in the pre-1840s in America and there are rendezvous scheduled all over the nation. Jim and Annetta have taken part in the activities since 1978.
“It didn’t seem like as much work then as it does now,” said Holmes.
She also will continued to be part of the crew that works at the Hardin County Fair’s arts and craft competition each year. They have already begun the review of programs to be offered for the 2013 fair, Holmes said.
She said over her years with United Way, she has been grateful for the board members who served local needs.
“They have all been dedicated to help the community,” said Holmes. “It takes people helping people locally. It’s great some donate to Haiti or international causes, but they have got to realize there are people right next to them who need help, too.”
By DAN ROBINSON
Times staff writer