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Morgan Community Spirit Award presented to Bonnie Dixon
Award named for longtime Effingham County benefactor
Bonnie Dixon with crowd
Bonnie Dixon, inaugural recipient of the Clarence E. Morgan Community Spirit Award, stands to applause from the crowd during the United Way of the Coastal Empire Kickoff event Sept. 13. (Submitted photo.)

Special to the Herald

SPRINGFIELD – One of Effingham County’s greatest givers was on the receiving end of something noteworthy Sept. 13.

The United Way of the Coastal Empire-Effingham presented the inaugural Clarence E. Morgan Community Spirit Award to Bonnie Dixon during its 2023 Campaign Kickoff.

Dixon didn’t bask in the spotlight during her acceptance speech even though she was greeted with enthusiastic applause from the 200-member crowd at the Clarence E. Morgan Complex. She turned the attention to Morgan and the importance of supporting United Way endeavors.

“I wish Clarence was here,” she said. “We miss him so much.”

Morgan (1946-2022), a teacher, coach, and longtime leader of Effingham County Recreation and Sports Management, was renowned locally for his desire to help people.

“Last year at this same event, we were looking to see how we could thank the people in our community for giving back so much,” United Way-Effingham Executive Director Kim Dennis said. “… We came up with the idea of the Community Spirit Award and we also decided to name it after somebody.”

Bonnie Dixon with UWCE Board
Bonnie Dixon (center, with award) stands with the Board of the United Way of the Coastal Empire. (Photo courtesy UWCE.)
Dennis explained the reasoning for attaching Morgan’s name to the annual award.

“(He was) a dedicated leader who served our community with strength, determination and passion,” she said. “As a volunteer for the United Way of the Coastal Empire-Effingham, he not only gave countless hours to the United Way through a variety of programs, but he also served as an Advisory Board member and board chair. He served an unprecedented three consecutive years as our United Way Campaign chair in Effingham, raising close to $1 million.”

Dixon, who retired in 2015 after serving 25 years as United Way-Effingham’s executive director, and Morgan were dear friends and worked closely together on projects for many years.

“He didn’t just say ‘yes’ to whatever you asked him to do. He committed to it,” Dixon said. “He gave more than one hundred percent all the time. He had a heart that was unbelievable.”

Dixon, chosen for the award by the Advisory Board, is cut from the same caring cloth as Morgan. She also worked for Effingham Victim Witness, which assists victims of violent crimes.

“Bonnie has always been a true advocate for the residents of Effingham County,” said LaMeisha Hunter-Kelly, Advisory Board chair.

Dixon devised and implemented numerous United Way-Effingham programs.

“There is so much that we could share (about Dixon) but we would be here all day,” Kelly said.

Dixon hasn’t stopped trying to help people despite her retirement. She recently completed a term on the Two Rivers Health Clinic Board of Directors.

“It’s easy to care when a community like this supports you,” she said.