The Bryan County chapter of the United Way kicked off its 2019 campaign Thursday, setting a goal of raising $210,000 to help enrich the lives of county residents.
"We Are One" is the campaign slogan for this year, representing the organization's reliance on unity and teamwork. Speakers used the timing, one day after the commemoration of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and a week after the Hurricane Dorian threat, to emphasize that neighbors need to depend on each other.
"There is power in our community when we're one," said Terry Enoch, campaign vice chairman. Enoch addressed more than 100 business and community representatives who packed the Richmond Hill City Center for the kickoff lunch. "Many of us are one or two paychecks away from losing everything," he added. "We have to make sure people have a safety net when a storm comes."
Mary Fuller, United Way's area director for Bryan County, cited the good work done by her organization thanks to the many donations from individuals and businesses. Among them:
* Mobile food pantries that provide supplemental food to local families who are struggling.
* Backpacks of Love, nutritious non-perishable food items given to children to take home on weekends and holidays so they don't go hungry.
* During the summer, the United Way office coordinates a school supply drive to distribute to low-income students to make sure they are prepared for the first day of school.
In addition, Fuller said last year 62 homeless individuals in Bryan County received shelter and assistance, 83 child abuse victims received counseling to help them heal, 64 people received medication assistance, and 805 children and adults received hearing and speech assessments.
Several non-profit organizations are recipients of the United Way funding. One of them, Savannah Speech and Hearing uses that money to offer those free hearing screenings, according to representative Beth McIntosh.
"All agencies are put through a rigorous application process (to receive money)" McIntosh said. "If you give to the United Way, you're assured that your money is going to the programs that best serve the community."
It's important to note each year that the United Way of the Coastal Empire, which Bryan County is part of, is the recipient of the Herschel V. Jenkins Trust Fund that pays for the majority of the United Way's admin and fundraising costs. That means nearly every dollar you give goes directly to help people in need.
Volunteer of the Year
Melodie Lane was named this year's Volunteer of the Year for the United Way, Bryan County chapter for her work with the Backpacks of Love. Lane was quick to acknowledge that "it's not a one-person show," she said, "There are many people involved in this."
Pembroke Advanced Communications was recognized by Fuller for raising more than $26,000, a 25-percent increase over last year, as a business getting a head start on fundraising.
For more information about the United Way and to donate, go to uwce.org or call 912-459-4111.