United Way's new director excited for annual campaign

Oct. 5—A longtime volunteer is using her years of experience to take on a new role as executive director for the United Way of East Mississippi.

Kym Parnell became director of the United Way in January and is the first female to hold the position. She succeeds Derron Radcliff.

"Stepping into this role was really like a blessing," Parnell said. "This is something I dreamed of for a long time, but never really thought that it would come to me as it did."

"After praying very hard, I believe that this was just what was meant for me to do and where I was supposed to be. It was a great feeling with great energy, and I was excited about joining such an awesome organization," she emphasized.

With over 25 years of leadership experience in the corporate sector, along with 19 of those years working and volunteering for several nonprofit organizations, Parnell says transitioning full-time to the nonprofit world was a bit of a change.

"I wouldn't say it was challenging, but it was definitely just a change with learning the nonprofit area," she said. "Helping and caring for the community and doing everything I can to improve it was easy, so coming into this was very different, yet it's been rewarding."

Parnell started her career as a banker in 1998 and has served in many roles throughout her 22-year profession. With finances being her strong suit, Parnell launched her business Kymmustry Financial LLC in 2020, focusing on credit education, restoration, and financial stability.

She served on the L.O.V.E.'s Kitchen board for approximately 15 years and was the board's vice president for several of those years. She has also volunteered for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life and State Games of Mississippi and was named one of Meridian's 2018 Top 20 Under 40.

Parnell's volunteer work stretches further than just Meridian, as she is also serving as Director of Finance for the Krewe of Nandi in New Orleans, a women's empowerment organization.

"Kym has been a constant presence in the Meridian non-profit community for years," said Tyler Walton, United Way of East Mississippi Board Member.

"Her enthusiasm for the United Way is contagious, and the board of directors is thrilled for her to bring her passion into the executive directors position, Kym truly lives united."

Team United campaign

The United Way of East Mississippi encourages the community to join "Team United" during its annual campaign, which is underway and runs through February 2022.

Parnell has served as a member of the Board of Directors of United Way of East Mississippi, serving as PaceSetter Chair, Campaign Chair, and the Board President, but now she will lead the way for her first campaign season as director.

Contributions to the United Way of East Mississippi, stay local, and help support their 22 partner agencies and seven impact programs serving the counties of Clarke, Kemper, Lauderdale, and Neshoba.

Some of those programs include the Boys & Girls Club, Boys Scouts of America — Choctaw Area Council, Care Lodge, The Carter Foundation, Camp Eagle Ridge, Feed by Faith, Free Clinic of Meridian, Foster Grandparents, God's Closet, Habitat for Humanity, and Hope Village for Children.

The mission of the United Way of East Mississippi is to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of the community by giving, advocating, and volunteering.

"Instead of setting the financial goal for this year, we just want to be an impact on the community," Parnell said. "Despite inflation and other things we are going through, we can still give and be "United."

Americorp Seniors seek volunteers

The Americorp Seniors (formally R.S.V.P.) is a volunteer group under the United Way umbrella. If you have just retired and have a little extra time on your hands, you are just who we are looking for. You can meet new people, make new friends, and at the end of the day, feel good because you helped make someone's day.

Whether it is 2 hours or 20 hours it is very rewarding. I know because I have been doing it for 20 years. If you feel like this is something you would be interested in, please call Joyce at 601-693-2732. — Maureen Files — Volunteer