Community Champions: The United Way of the Coastal Empire

Community Champions: The United Way of the Coastal Empire

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Beginning Wednesday, Feb. 6, WTOC will honor organizations that help people - nonprofit and charitable groups that make the community a better place.

We start with an organization that helps so many other organizations to their good work. They help the helpers respond in times of crisis, and make after-school programs possible, and keep the community fed.

“Last year, we funded 58 nonprofit agencies with 92 different programs."

The United Way of the Coastal Empire reaches into thousands of homes in four counties, raising millions of dollars every year and distributing it to nonprofits that reach every corner of the local community.

“We’re that single convener of all aspects of the community, and we bring together the resources to meet the needs of the community to make sure everyone has a wonderful life,” said Deb Thompson, United Way of the Coastal Empire.

If you’re going to profile organizations that help people, it makes sense to start with the organization that helps all of those organizations. The United Way keeps many family-assistance agencies afloat with annual grants, changing lives and becoming the first WTOC Community Champions.

“One out of three individuals in our community will be touched by a United Way funded agency, but it’s the programs and it’s the people running those programs and the real, genuine care and concern that they put into making sure that the people participating are successful,” Thompson said.

In 2018, the United Way successfully raised more than $8.4 million for organizations such as Greenbriar Children’s Center, Family Promise, and Senior Citizens Inc. Almost all of it reached the community because most of the organization’s overhead is covered by the Herschel V. Jenkins Trust Fund.

“Ninety-six cents of every single dollar goes right into the programs or service, so I think that gives people peace of mind to know that their money is going where they want it to go and it all stays local. I tell people all the time, 'I have the best job in the city and in the country because all I do is spend my days working with people who want to make life better for everyone,” Thompson said.

The United Way also provides its own direct services, such as Back Pack Buddies and Read Across Liberty County, which Thompson says would not be possible without the work of a large, dedicated group of United Way volunteers.

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