United Way of Greenville County celebrated and recognized the generosity and impact of its donors and volunteers during the organization’s 2021 Stronger United Community Awards Celebration, held virtually on Thursday from the Peace Center.
United Way Campaign Vice Chair Cal Hurst of Southern First Bank emceed the event, which highlighted the community’s philanthropic support of United Way as the organization worked to meet the increased needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among those recognized during the event were public entities, private partners, donors, corporations, activists and volunteers who make United Way’s work possible. Thanks to the collective support of the community, United Way raised nearly $5 million for its COVID-19 Relief Fund, and deployed those dollars to meet basic needs, such as housing, food and utilities for those negatively affected by the pandemic.
In total, United Way invested more than $13 million in Greenville County through grants, direct services, COVID-19 relief, and strategic programs that serve the community every day.
“We have been proud to celebrate all of the great things we accomplished together last year – sometimes against the odds,” said Meghan Barp, president and CEO of United Way of Greenville County. “The love and support we saw pouring in from our community as we banded together to help our most vulnerable neighbors was inspiring, and fuels us to keep going every day. As we move forward into 2021, we continue to respond to the immediate needs of our neighbors, while laying the foundation for a recovery that leaves no member of our community behind.”
Among the awards presented Thursday were three United Way Spirit Awards, the organization’s highest honor for community service and leadership. Greenville County Schools Food and Nutrition Services and Director Joe Urban received the Spirit Award for quickly developing and instituting a plan to serve meals to students and families across the district after schools were forced to close in March to stop the spread of COVID-19. By May, they had served more than a million meals, and the number only grew as the team continued to provide meals all summer long at school drive-throughs, as well as 70 community bus stops across the county.
The County of Greenville was also recognized with the Spirit Award for its response to COVID-19. One month after the federal CARES Act was signed into law last March, the County received more than $91 million in aid and was tasked with developing a plan to distribute it. County Council approved a budget outline that prioritized small businesses and nonprofits, including $37 million for 56 community organizations providing much needed assistance for food insecurity, utility assistance, housing and more. Included in that total was $2.5 million to United Way that helped launch the Keep the Lights On initiative for families struggling to keep up with utility bills. Thanks to that grant, more than 3,600 Greenville County households – approximately 9,000 people – were helped.
The third Spirit Award honoree was the late Courtney Woods-Hastings, a longtime United Way volunteer who served countless hours supporting the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, assisting clients in free tax preparation and filing, as well as being a voice and advocate in the community for those in need. The award was presented to her husband, Phillip, on her behalf.
Also Thursday, United Way celebrated the generosity of companies and organizations participating in its annual workplace campaign.
“In a year unlike any other, and at a time when we were needed most, our workplace campaigns continued to set a high bar for giving,” said 2020 United Way Campaign Chair Yobany Banks-McKay. “In the middle of responding to the biggest pandemic in 100 years, hundreds of local companies and organizations stepped up for a better community.”
Michelin North America turned in the largest workplace campaign in 2020, followed by Prisma Health, Greenville County Schools, Publix Super Markets, GE, Canal Insurance Company, TD Bank, ITW Hartness, Fluor Corporation Greenville, and Mitsubishi Polyester Film, Inc.
Other honorees included:
- The Campaign Award of Excellence to 166 companies.
- The Chairman’s Award to 17 companies.
- The Campaign Award of Advancement to 16 companies for achieving a 25 percent increase in employee giving.
- The Premier Award to five organizations for running their first United Way campaign: Endeavor, Greenville Triumph Soccer Club, NCEES, Pacolet Milliken and Wabtec.
- The Most Creative Event Award to Resurgent Capital Services.
- The Outstanding Campaign Coordinator Award to Jacob Coursey with ITW Hartness.
- The Above and Beyond Campaign Award to UBS Financial Services
- The Rising Star Engagement Award to McMillan Pazdan Smith
- The All-Star Engagement Award to Prisma Health
To watch a recording of the 2021 Stronger United Community Awards, click here.