United Way’s Kickoff Reveals New Community-Wide Focus And Launches New Young Professional Group

Staff Report From Augusta CEO

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

United Way of the CSRA hosted the 2019 Campaign Kickoff luncheon at the Bell Auditorium with a new theme of Discover Your Impact.

The Kickoff was presented through the generosity of Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, Doctors Hospital of Augusta, Southern Nuclear Company- Plant Vogtle, Georgia Power, ADP, Blanchard and Calhoun, and University Health Care System.  Jennie Montgomery and Brad Means of WJBF News Channel 6 presided over the event.

United Way’s 2019 Board Chair, Mark Haddon, and Jamie Booth, Marketing Director with Blanchard & Calhoun, launched a new affinity giving group on stage called Focus45.  Focus45 is for the region’s rising leaders, donors, and volunteers under the age of 45 and who are looking to connect with each other through community events and make an impact on their own terms through United Way of the CSRA. 

United Way’s President and CEO, Brittany Burnett, facilitated a powerfully realistic activity called A Day in the Life where real-life scenarios of local families in need were experienced first-hand by the event’s audience. Over 500 attendees were able to walk through a month in the life of several local families living in poverty or who are considered the working poor and that United Way of the CSRA and their 2-1-1 Helpline Referral Service impacted right here in our community. From working at a job that only pays minimum wage and not having money for daycare services to learning how much a monthly bus transportation pass costs or making a choice between clothes or medication for your family, United Way wanted to show the harsh reality of what many of our residents face every day.

 “51% of our 12-county impact area lives in poverty or are considered the working poor. Pair that with 1 in 5 children in our community experience hunger every day, 20% of arrests made related to vandalism, theft, or robbery are juvenile offenders (under 17 years of age), and 65% of our areas 3rd graders are not reading at grade level … our community is in need. Our region is growing with new industries coming to town and businesses expanding all over the CSRA but our residents still struggle to make ends meet. Whether it is because they are not earning a livable wage, they do not possess marketable skills for the industries in our area, they struggle to access available resources, or our child are not prepared for success in school, United Way knows there are several issues to tackle and we have identified key areas to focus our efforts on over the course of the next five years,” says Mrs. Burnett.

United Way of the CSRA unveiled their new strategic plan and community-wide initiative called Leading Families Forward. This initiative will harness collaborative efforts of existing and new community partners and focus on transforming lives in four key impact areas: Childhood Success, Youth Success, Workforce Development, and Access to Resources.

“Our community needs United Way, our strong partnerships, and ability to mobilize resources to help solve these complex problems. But United Way also needs our community’s support in order to make lasting change on the issues that matter most in our region. We want to ensure that children, young adults, and families have the tools and resources they need to achieve their maximum potential.  Your support, your gift, to United Way will enable us to Lead Families Forward, not only for today, but for next week, next year, and the next generation.” says Mrs. Burnett.

Each year, United Way is also fortunate to have assistance from a number of local companies who loan key employees or sponsor individuals that will work with United Way for the next 13 weeks helping to run campaigns throughout the community in order to reach the fundraising goal.  This year’s Campaign Associates (CA’s) were introduced as: Nikki Bowman; Olivia Kirk; Bernadette Williams, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions; Rita Stubblefield; and Elvin Thompson.

United Way’s 2019 Campaign Chair, Jordan Pierce of First Community, announced the campaign goal of $3,150,000. Mr. Pierce commented, “Today I am asking each of you to help those in our community that represent the 51% in or near poverty, the children who often don’t know where their next meal will be coming from, the juveniles who should be positively engaged after school, and those students who continue to struggle in school every day. My goal is to stand before you in a few months at our Annual Campaign Celebration and tell you that our community allowed United Way to make a stronger and deeper impact right here at home. Your time is valuable, your contributions ever so important, and your commitment is crucial. Join us in this change to transform lives by Leading Families Forward.