Bryan County United Way is looking to raise $150,000 this year in its effort as part of the United Way of the Coastal Empire, it was announced at a kickoff luncheon Tuesday at the Richmond Hill City Center. That is a 45 percent increase over last year’s total.
Last year’s goal of $83,000 was surpassed by 18 percent as Bryan County’s contribution reached $98,000. Speakers at the luncheon stressed this year’s theme of “Be the One,” coupled with United Way’s slogan “Give, Advocate, Volunteer.”
“Without volunteers giving of their time, ability and talent, we wouldn’t be able to touch as many lives as we do,” said Kristi Cox, director of the Bryan County United Way office.
To that end, Dave Williams of Pembroke was recognized with the first annual “Volunteer of the Year” award. Williams, a former bus driver for Bryan County Schools, is a deacon at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church and Boy Scout leader. He also serves on the Pembroke Planning and Zoning Commission and is past president of the Bryan County NAACP chapter.
“He is just an awesome individual,” Cox said. “He never says no.”
Williams thanked his wife, Delores, in accepting the award, insisting he did not deserve it.
“I do what I do because I have a passion for helping people,” he said. “A ‘thank you’ or a smile or a hug are the rewards. We can all play a part in making Bryan County not just a better place to live, but the best place to live.”
United Way of the Coastal Empire, which includes Bryan, Chatham, Effingham and Liberty counties, seeks to raise $8.3 million between now and Nov. 18.
Byron Atkinson, who serves on the UWCE board of directors, told the crowd of about 200 that there are specific reasons why people should support the effort.
He said out of 1,200 United Way agencies nationwide, UWCE is one of just six that is fully supported administratively, meaning all contributions go directly to services. That is due to a $500,000 gift made in 1955 by Savannah resident Herschel V. Jenkins. Local media — including Bryan County News — also donates some $400,000 worth of paid media annually.
New to the giving methods this year is the opportunity to send a “flock” of pink, plastic flamingoes to a neighbor, colleague or family member for a donation. Board member Kay Green assured that deliveries would be “discreet and under the cover of darkness.”
Call the Bryan County office at (912) 459-4111 for more information on making a contribution or volunteering.