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United Way of Coastal Empire signs disaster agreement with Effingham, other counties
United Way of the Coastal Empire officials recently came together with emergency management leaders of Bryan, Chatham, Effingham and Liberty counties. - photo by Photo submitted

United Way of the Coastal Empire officials recently came together with emergency management leaders of Bryan, Chatham, Effingham and Liberty counties to announce signed agreements to activate disaster response fundraising efforts in the event of a natural disaster or other significant hazards that negatively impact the region.  

The purpose of the partnerships is to help facilitate disaster recovery in United Way’s four-county service area in the most efficient and effective ways to maximize the individual strengths of all for the greatest good, said Jaime Dailey-Vergara, vice president of Marketing for the United Way of the Coastal Empire. 

Effingham County Fire Chief and Emergency Management Agency Director Clint Hodges said, “It allows us to get resources into the hands of people as quickly as we possibly can.”

Dailey-Vergara said United Way’s role is to spearhead fundraising efforts for disaster response. Then the organization will help distribute funds in partnership with emergency management experts through groups providing client assistance and case management services as well as to clients through United Way’s 211 Call Center and County Service Centers in Bryan, Chatham, Effingham and Liberty counties.  

Local governments and United Way have long enjoyed cooperative relationships, but United Way officials say the new formal agreements and clearer processes will make it easier for all involved in emergency management to bolster their combined response in the event of an emergency situation.

“United Way of the Coastal Empire’s mission is to mobilize the caring power of this community to improve lives,” said United Way of the Coastal Empire President and CEO Brynn Grant. “A major step forward for regional collaboration, these signed partnership agreements fulfill that mission by helping to ensure the greatest effectiveness in securing and deploying resources in the aftermath of a natural disaster or threats to our communities.”

These formalized regional agreements come during a year that saw a tornado devastate parts of Bryan County on April 5, 2022.

“This agreement is an important step in getting Bryan County citizens the help they need after a disaster,” said Bryan County Commission Chairman Carter Infinger. “United Way can streamline the process for donations and assistance, which frees County staff to provide other assistance. I hope that we are never hit with any other disaster, but I am proud to be officially collaborating with United Way to aid Bryan County in the future.”

Chatham County Emergency Management Agency Director Dennis Jones said, “The Disaster Relief Fund is a crucial step forward for our community’s recovery if there is a large-scale event. Now, immediately following a disaster, the United Way will have the ability to harness the generosity of donors, both locally and from across the country, to directly support disaster survivors within Chatham County.”