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Success stories
United Way reveals its impact, lives its touched in community
united way 1
United Way of Effingham County Chair Dinah King, left, and Area Director Bonnie Dixon present a gift to Dr. Jack Heneisen. The Effingham United Way thanked Heneisen and three other retiring members of its advisory board. - photo by Photo by Paul Floeckher

The United Way of Effingham County included several statistics in the 2013 annual report it presented Wednesday, but the impact its agencies had on the community went far beyond just the numbers.

Archie Jenkins, program coordinator for the Food Outreach Co-op of Effingham (FORCE), shared the story of a local man who never expected he would need to receive help from the United Way, after years of giving to it.

“He said that, ‘if everyone knew that one day they may need one of the programs that the United Way funds, your money would just pour in like rain out of the sky,’” Jenkins recalled.

The middle-aged man had worked for a major industry in the area for 13 years, Jenkins said, and every year donated to the United Way campaign through a payroll deduction. However, health problems led him to file for Social Security disability.

As Jenkins explained, “He’s talking to me, he’s choking up, he’s almost getting me to cry, saying that he has given for 13 years and never, ever dreamed that he would be a beneficiary of it.”

The man was among the nearly 4,000 people the Food Outreach Co-op of Effingham assisted in 2013. FORCE is one of 25 organizations the Effingham United Way supports.

One of the programs the United Way’s Effingham Service Center offers is e-Connect, formerly known as the Center for Working Families. The program helps people living in poverty to find employment or receive job training.

Program manager Destiny Bradshaw told the audience about an unemployed single mother who was one of e-Connect’s success stories last year. The client needed a job to provide for her two teenagers, while she also provided care for her elderly mother.

“She really needed to have a job that was flexible that allowed her to care for her mother,” Bradshaw said.

Through e-Connect, the woman found a job that allowed her to work from home. Also, the United Way covered the cost of her job training, made one of her rent payments and provided transportation for her interview.

With a small paid staff, the United Way relies heavily on volunteers. Effingham County United Way volunteers logged a total of 26,700 hours in 2013, according to the annual report.

Area Director Bonnie Dixon thanked the retiring members of the United Way Effingham advisory board: Mike Griffith, Dr. Jack Heneisen, Frank Huff and John Kieffer.

Also recognized were the new members of the advisory board — Brenda Bruner, Franklin Goldwire and Dan Pennings — and Effingham’s officers: chair Dinah King, vice chair Mark Smith and secretary Melodie Fulcher.

Another big thank-you was to the top corporate donors to the United Way of Effingham County’s 2013 fundraising campaign. The Georgia-Pacific Savannah River Mill led the way with a donation of $171,307, followed by the Effingham County School System ($71,106), Georgia Power ($16,386) and Effingham Health System ($15,808).

“As a small community like we are, we really depend greatly on these larger businesses,” Dixon said.

Those contributions helped the United Way surpass last year’s campaign goal of $310,075. However, the major donors did more than just contribute monetarily, Dixon said; the businesses also brought to the campaign leadership and expertise in running a business.

“By seeing the good work that we do here, they in turn go back and share that with their co-workers and employees, and the support comes naturally,” Dixon said. “And we have to have it. There is no way you could run an organization that does this much good without this much money.”

Dixon also announced Taryn Knick as the chair for the 2014 campaign, which will kick off in September. Andy Lamon will serve as vice chair.