SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Thursday, WTOC’s own Craig Harney was awarded the United Way’s Spirit of Philanthropy Award for his tireless work behind the scenes.
Somebody finally figured out how to get Craig out of his element - by putting him on stage, and for once, in front of the camera.
“We had to trick him a little bit. He had no idea this was coming.”
Craig is Savannah’s most gifted storyteller because he has a way of connecting with everyone he interviews.
“The blessing is the relationships you build anytime you do a story that stay with you forever,” Harney said.
He has told the United Way of the Coastal Empire’s story so artfully because that’s who Craig is.
“That generosity of spirit that touches people. It’s not an organization, it’s people. It’s people. That’s what the United Way is about.”
There was a twist during the United Way’s annual meeting Thursday when Craig was the story - individually receiving the organization’s award that usually goes to three people; recognition for giving, advocating and volunteering.
“He embodies all of it, so we were very, very pleased to be able to give him this award. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Craig for years in the campaign cabinet, and I really don’t know anyone who is more selfless and can tell stories better,” said Deb Thompson, United Way of the Coastal Empire, President.
...Or who is such a big part of the Savannah community and the United Way, from the background.
The Man of Steel Campaign? Craig was behind that. James Bond? Craig’s idea. Last year’s All for One? Well, that was Larry Silbermann’s idea, but Craig’s execution - making more magic from beyond the spotlight - until it finally found him on Thursday.
“He’s very humble. He doesn’t feel like he deserves the recognition he gets, and the reality of the matter is there’s no enough recognition to give him what he deserves,” said Silbermann, WTOC’s General Manager.
“It was different, but in this context to be able to thank those people, to be in a room with those people that I love so much was really meaningful to me, so for the sake of that, I accept it,” Harney said.
He can accept the many kind words from several Savannah’s business leaders in Thursday’s tribute as proof what we all knew existed - just how valued, how respected, and how loved Craig Harney is - everywhere in his community.
“It’s a tremendous honor. It’s wonderful. It’s a wonderful organization that touches so many people in the community, and to have that room honor me that way was wonderful,” he said.
United Way President and CEO Deb Thompson says there was not even a vote when it was suggested that Craig receive all three phases of the Philanthropy Award. There was total agreement among everyone in the room.