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SOAR announces press conference for grants, awards


Special to The Dispatch



Starkville Oktibbeha Achieving Results (SOAR) will hold a press conference and convening for civic and service clubs Wednesday, June 29, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Starkville.  


The 10 a.m. press conference will be followed by a luncheon and convening for all civic and service club representatives in the area at 11:30 a.m. The press conference is open to the public; the luncheon is by invitation only. 


In addition to a $10,000 grant restricted to the East Mississippi Community College Tuition Guarantee Program, SOAR will announce grants and awards for six other community organizations -- Oktibbeha County''s G.E.D. graduates, Family First Resource Center, Oktibbeha Master Gardeners, OSERVS, MSU/Starkville Symphony and Starkville Schools'' Summer Enrichment Program. 


With those listed above, SOAR has awarded grants totaling $63,271 to 17 different organizations and projects in Starkville and other communities in Oktibbeha County since 2005. 


SOAR was established in 2002 as an affiliate with CREATE, a 39-year-old public, charitable community foundation. SOAR''s endowment fund is invested and managed by CREATE. A local board of directors retains control over the money used for grants for projects aimed at benefiting the entire community.  


Current SOAR board members are John Robert Arnold, Omis Avant, Dr. Joe Brown, Larnzy Carpenter, Dr. Dora Herring, Latasha Hill, Pat Lane, Jim Lytle, Dr. Fenton Peters, Buddy Staggers, Nellah Taylor, Charles Weatherly, Dr. Martha Wells and Ross Williams. 


The $10,000 current focus project of SOAR is to fund a tuition guarantee program at EMCC for students in Starkville and Oktibbeha County each year.  


The program''s continuation is contingent on funding. The primary fundraiser is profits and gifts received from the sale of merchandise, ice and refreshments at the Sturgis South Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis Oct. 7-9.  


Eligible students for the Tuition Guarantee Program must be a resident of Oktibbeha County. Other criteria are available by contacting Charles Weatherly, chairman of SOAR''s Grants and Awards Committee, at 662-617-0948 or Jan Eastman at 662-844-8989 or [email protected] 


"Last year was our first community-wide service club effort dedicated for the project," says Weatherly. "We had 10 civic and service clubs in our area join to make the fundraising event at Sturgis a success. Almost $4,000 was generated from the effort, and we invite all clubs in the area to join us this fall to make it even more profitable.  


Those interested in volunteering should contact Eastman at the CREATE Foundation office in Tupelo at the number or email address given above. 


"As Oktibbeha County''s community foundation, SOAR can serve as a clearinghouse for donors in their charitable giving," stated John Robert Arnold, one of the founding board members of SOAR. "Gifts to SOAR can be made in cash, stock, real estate, personal property, insurance, charitable trusts and bequests in wills. And, we should be reminded how important it is to read, review, and update our wills on a regular basis, at least once a year." Cash gifts can be given by automatic bank draft, check, or online with a credit card.  


For more information, contact Weatherly or Eastman at the numbers listed. 




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