UCHRA delivers hope to 164,000
ity Outreach / Resource Development Assistant Manager
COOKEVILLE ‚Äď Over forty young men and women from the three residential centers performed an interpretive signing of the song, ‚ÄúCome as You Are‚ÄĚ, for more than 300 people at the 36th annual meeting of the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency (UCHRA). This could possibly be an unofficial motto for UCHRA as more than 164,000 residents in a 14 county area are being served by the 68 programs. ‚ÄúThe aim,‚ÄĚ says Executive Director, Phyllis Bennett, ‚Äúis to move people from dependence to independence.‚ÄĚ
During the UCHRA meeting, held in October at the Leslie Towne center, Bennett made it abundantly clear ‚Äúdespite losing over $5 million in federal and state funding, the UCHRA projects to expend over $33 million as the agency continues to deliver hope to the Upper Cumberland region.‚ÄĚ
Nearly every facet of the agency reported an increase in overall spending for the 2008-2009 fiscal year, with the Residential Services division leading the way by reporting a 67% increase reflected in new funding for the Youth Impact Center in Crossville. Transportation/ Services Division followed with a reported 22% increase and Community Services showed a 17% increase. The Tennessee Career Centers served an additional 9,304 people this year. This is a 9% increase and brings their yearly total of customers to 114,375. The Employment and Training Division and the Field Services / Nutrition Division reported an approximate 6% increase for the year.
UCHRA also honored two local government servants. Congressmen Lincoln Davis and Bart Gordon were awarded a framed resolution written by Van Buren County Mayor Kelly Dishman and passed unanimously by the Board of Directors proclaiming the fact that the UCHRA Board is blessed to have these congressmen represent the Upper Cumberland. It reads in part, ‚Äú‚Ä¶as two gentlemen of the Upper Cumberland who have never forgotten where they came from or whom they represent;‚ÄĚ but Congressman Davis had other thoughts. In an interview he commented, ‚ÄúThe honor really belongs to the ones who bring problems to my door and persist in their quest to meet them.‚ÄĚ These comments were aimed at the employees of the UCHRA. Graciously accepting for himself and on behalf of Congressman Gordon, who could not attend, he remarked, ‚ÄúIn Washington it is known if you mess with Bart, you mess with me and if you mess with me, you mess with Bart.‚ÄĚ Referring to the fact of how closely together they work.
The meeting concluded with the election of new officers for the Board of Directors and Policy Council for the UCHRA. They are: Stephen Bilbrey, Chairman; Kelly Dishman, Vice Chairman; Sam Sallee, Secretary; Michael Nesbitt, Treasurer; and the Policy Council‚Äôs new officers: Curtis Hayes, Chairman and Brock Hill, Vice Chairman. ‚ÄúIt is a real honor to be selected by the UCHRA Board of Directors as Chairman for the 2010 fiscal year. The overwhelming, unmet needs of the Upper Cumberland residents are continuously a challenge for the UCHRA Board and staff. I will strive to help secure the resources to meet those needs.‚ÄĚ Stephen Bilbrey, the new UCHRA Chairman stated.