This year's campaign for the Nolan County United Way (NCUW) is "Give Where You Live", which focuses on serving local entities.
Wendy Smartt is the group's Executive Director, and she leads a board of volunteers from the community who hope to impact the community through a caring power. The organization is run solely on pledges.
To donate to the Nolan County United Way, a one-time donation can be given by a payroll deduction or a quarterly basis. These donations allow the NCUW to reach thousands within the county by supporting nine agencies.
The organizations must take part in an annual interview process and meet several guidelines to receive the assistance from the Nolan County United Way. Over a year's time, the entities will get support on three different occasions.
This year's NCUW goal is $85,000, which will stay in the county to help the agencies. They are the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, SNAP (Senior Nutrition Activities Program), Cancer Services Network, Gateway Family Services, Sweetwater BackPack Buddies, the West Texas Children's Advocacy Center (WTCAC), the Big Country Medical Reserve Corps, and the Women's Resource Center.
The national organization of one of the local groups assisted through the Nolan County United Way began after the September 11, 2001 attacks, when awareness was given to the need for trained medical and public health personnel as supplemental personnel during emergency operations. Various professionals in these fields had a desire to offer emergency relief aid, but at that time an organized approach to do so was not available.
Thus, the federal program known as the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) was incepted after the 2002 State of the Union Address from then-President George W. Bush. In that speech, the President urged all national citizens to volunteer to support the country.
The MRC is made up of organized volunteers from the fields of medicine and public health that respond to natural disasters, emergencies, and public health efforts in communities throughout the country.
The program offers the necessary structure to send out identified specific, trained and credentialed people that are available to respond to emergencies.
Nationally, MRC is run by the Division of the Civilian Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps (DCVMRC), which is headquartered in the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General--offering information and the best practices in helping cities and town set up and maintain their local MRC programs throughout the nation.
On the local front is the Big Country Medical Reserve Corps (BCMRC), which was founded in 2008 and is located at the Sweetwater-Nolan County Health Department. Among their local supporters through donations is the Nolan County United Way.
The Big Country Medical Reserve Corps consists of medical professionals from Nolan County as well as many non-medically trained individuals who have demonstrated their desire to serve the area by volunteering during times of crisis.
"There are opportunities for anyone with a heart to serve,” said Ray Browning, the BCMRC Coordinator. They currently have around 35 active members, with a total membership of one hundred people.
Among their recent work has been assistance with the evacuations in Rotan, serving at the local TSTC Health Fair, and training exercises locally and as far as Grapevine, Texas--amassing around 1,000 hours of donated training on an annual basis. This year for 2012, over 1,033 total volunteer hours were obtained.
And one of their largest campaigns was the 2012 Big Country Biggest Winner contest, a two-month-long endeavor that was set up and sponsored by the BCMRC. As a result, Nolan County residents lost under 2,500 pounds of weight--the same amount as a Ford Fiesta automobile.
Looking ahead, their goal in the next year is to engage youth into their program. To learn more about the Big Country Medical Reserve Corps, contact Ray Browning at 325-235-5463 or 325-933-0427.
This article is part of a series called "Nolan County United Way: Agency Spotlight". Through a partnership with the NCUW, the Sweetwater Reporter hopes to inform readers about all nine agencies. To learn more about the Nolan County United Way or for opportunities to volunteer, contact Smartt at firstname.lastname@example.org  or by voice mail at 325-235-9522.