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Great Kickoff Turnout Supports United Way of Oxford & Lafayette County

The Oxford Conference Center hosted the annual kickoff for the United Way of Oxford & Lafayette County during lunch Wednesday. And judging by the full tables of supporters, its going to be a great year for the local chapter.
The Oxford Conference Center was a great venue to host the United Way of Oxford & Lafayette County Kick-Off event.
Karen Chain, United Way of Oxford & Lafayette County Board President, opened the event by thanking everyone for attending and quieting the chatty crowd enjoying a delicious lunch. She then introduced Alice Ricks, UWOLC Executive Director, who expressed her appreciation for volunteers and donations, no matter how small or large.
Ricks explained that chapter funds raised were used directly helping people in our community. The most impressive stat was that 99 percent of the money raised stays in Lafayette County!
Alice Ricks (at podium) and Katherine Drinkwater are the only full-time employees at UWOLC and organized the event.
Kelley Norris, Campaign Kick-Off Chair, then took the podium to introduce the keynote speaker, Lydia Jones. She is the wife of University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones.
Mrs. Jones was friendly and gracious, pointing out that she had jokingly asked her husband not to attend today’s event. Her reasoning was that she felt intimidated speaking in front of such an accomplished orator as her husband. But judging by the appreciative crowd reaction, she held her own. She joked that she was appointing Chancellor Jones as the ‘Unofficial Fundraising Chairman’ of the United Way.
Lydia Jones delivered a passionate speech that showed her love of the Lafayette County community.

Mrs. Jones’ husband, Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones, looks on with pride.
Mrs. Jones then told a story that helped illustrate the theme of her keynote speech, “What if …” She relayed a personal account the Jones’ experienced while working in South Korea more than two decades ago. They were volunteering for a Leper Colony, where afflicted people had been shunned to the tip of the country.
Mrs. Jones said there were around 2,000 people living in and around the community, some of whom were infected with leprosy along with their family members. The Jones were volunteering at a clinic run by the Presbyterian church there, when one winter day, a huge snow storm came through. Mrs. Jones assumed she and her physician husband would not make the long treacherous trip to the clinic that day, but Dr. Dan Jones had a different idea.
He said he still planned to make the trip and Mrs. Jones could join him, or not. She decided to go despite her worries, even though she was sure no one would even show up to receive care. What was the point, she wondered? To Mrs. Jones’ surprise, the couple arrived to find 50 patients lining the walls of the facility. They gave the Jones’ a round of applause for coming.
Her inspiring story was told to communicate: “What if we hadn’t gone, would it have made a difference?” She answered her own question with an enthusiastic “YES.” All of our actions helping others make a difference, no matter how small or large, Mrs Jones said. She added, “That is why we as a community should make that extra effort — even if we think no one will notice.”
Kelley Norris, Campaign Kick-Off Chair.
So we at hottytoddy.com ask you to think about this question yourself, and then think about what you can do to help make it happen. Don’t look back and think, “What if,” and wish you could have been more involved.
Mayor Pat Patterson was in attendance.

Supporters enjoyed mingling before and after the event.

Tables were reserved for all of the sponsors, including MS Federal Credit Union and Hayakawa Electronics. Other sponsors include Baptist Memorial Hospital, Cannon Motors, Caterpillar, City of Oxford, Community Trust Bank, FNB Oxford, Oxford University Bank, Swetland Cook CPAs, University of Mississippi, Winchester, Ole Miss Athletics, Roseburg, Bank of Commerce, BancorpSouth, The Oxford Eagle, Renesant Bank, Oxford University Club, Twisted Twig and the Oxford Conference Center.

Sarah Beth Wiley is Creative Director of HottyToddy.com/Experience Oxford. Contact Sarah Beth about this story at SB.Wiley@HottyToddy.com.

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