Honoring MLK: ‘Everybody Can Be Great, Because Everybody Can Serve’

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated his life to fighting for equal rights, representation and access for all. More than 50 years after his tragic death, his vision for a better, more just society continues to be a beacon for people everywhere united for progress.

At United Way, we draw inspiration from Dr. King’s legacy in our mission to build a stronger, more equitable Greenville County where all people have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Improving economic mobility and providing basic needs for all are deeply tied to Dr. King’s vision, and are the key pillars of our work in the community.

” The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education. ” – MLK, “The Purpose of Education,” Essay in the Maroon Tiger (Morehouse College student newspaper), Feb. 1947

Far beyond just the integration of schools, Dr. King’s vision for equal education included funding and support for low-income schools and underrepresented communities. Today, donor investments in local education and our own programs like OnTrack Greenville move us closer to achieving this ideal, helping thousands of students and their families eliminate barriers to school success each year.

” Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality. ” – MLK, “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution,” Oberlin College commencement address, June 1965

Through donor-funded initiatives like our COVID-19 Community Relief Fund, School Tools, Keep the Lights On and Project Joy, we see the power of this interconnectedness. In 2020, so many generous community members responded to the call to help our neighbors in need, raising over 4 million for COVID-19 relief efforts. We also answered nearly 35,000 calls through our Community Resource Line, connecting our neighbors to resources right here in Greenville County. And we continue to draw inspiration from Dr. King’s legacy of service each and every day to move Greenville County forward. Because we are Stronger United.

” Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. ” – MLK, “The Drum Major Instinct,” Ebenezer Baptist Church, Feb. 4, 1968

The volunteer spirit of Greenville County fuels so much of what we are able to accomplish. Each year, United Way volunteers roll up their sleeves and donate their time to make a difference for others. Volunteers can find opportunities to serve nearly any day of the week with the  project calendar on United Way’s handsongreenville.org.


We invite you to join us and our partners at United Housing Connections and the Upstate Continuum of Care for a special service opportunity to provide supplies to our homeless neighbors through this month’s Point-in-Time (PIT) Count.

There are several virtual and socially distanced opportunities to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy across our community over the next week. See below for upcoming events — and check back as we continue to update this list:

Monday, Jan. 18, 2021

  • Unity Sports presents “Where Do I Go from Here,” a virtual breakfast program featuring keynote speaker Dr. Brenda J. Thomas. Learn more here.
  • The City of Greer will livestream its MLK celebration at 11:30 a.m. on its Facebook page. Rev. Earl D. Simmons, Sr. of Maple Creek Baptist Church will be the keynote speaker. Learn more here.
  • Litter Ends Here and the YMCA of Greenville are hosting socially distanced community litter cleanups. Click here to learn more about this community-wide event.

Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

  • Join Furman University for a webinar focusing on COVID-19 and its impacts on communities of color in the Upstate. Register here.

Friday, Jan. 22, 2021

  • Join us for our MLK Service Drive’s community collection day from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at our office (105 Edinburgh Ct). Click here to learn more.


  • Clemson University will honor Dr. King’s life and legacy with multiple virtual events during its 39th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. Learn more about these events here.

Making a difference starts here


Making a Difference Starts Here

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