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Guest post by Southern Wesleyan University interns Lyndy Barnes and Kayla Eison

I had just started my first week as an intern at United Way of Pickens County (UWPC); Kayla and I barely knew each other, but there was this urgency to tell her everything I loved about this organization that I had only been a part of for a few days. From there, we were both caught in this beautiful web that is the non-profit world.

Graduation is less than two weeks away, and we’re both looking back over the past few months wondering how exactly we should put into words what United Way of Pickens...

The time has finally arrived for me to write about Camp iRock Year 3. I am so excited because honestly, it's the most wonderful program ever.

Camp iRock is an innovative summer literacy program that addresses "summer learning loss," a significant challenge for too many Pickens County children. It's a unique partnership between the School District, the YMCA and United Way.

Each partner is in charge of what they do best. The School District manages the literacy component, the Y brings more summer fun than any kid can handle and they build character and self-esteem, and United...

I will admit that deep down inside sometimes I feel a little pressure. That little voice inside my head pipes in every so often and says, “Are you sure this is good enough?”

There is absolutely no one to blame for this trait. My folks were amazing. I’ve been educated, encouraged and supported my entire life. No one is pressuring me at United Way either.

I have a great Board of Directors, amazing community impact committees and a world class staff. I guess I am just wired this way. It’s a blessing and a curse.

Being the director and “in charge of all things United Way...

Fifteen years ago, I attended a United Way symposium about women in philanthropy hosted by my friends at United Way in Anderson County. There were a lot of amazing and passionate women in attendance, all who shared a common goal for changing their community. I came back to Pickens County on fire and ready to dive in head first.

“STOP”, my inner voice said. “You are not ready.” At the time, we were funding some amazing programs, but we hadn’t honed in on our community impact plan.

One thing I’ve learned in this job is that there is a right way to affect community change, and...

By the time this article is published, Thanksgiving will only be three weeks away. I love Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite time of year. I think back to my childhood and can almost smell the apple pie and cinnamon.

Even though I was born on June 30, I also celebrate a birthday on Nov. 24. You see, I was adopted and my parents brought me home on Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving. What kid gets two birthdays?

Counting your blessings was a big deal at my house, a practice that I continue today. I am one grateful person. For one thing, I love my job. I LOVE IT! How many people...

I am ready to talk about money. Earning it and avoiding the pitfalls of ruin. You might think this topic is easy for me, but it’s not.

I have a complicated lifelong relationship with money. Even the thought of writing about it in this column makes me uncomfortable. Why is that?

My childhood years were blissful. I wanted for nothing. I was happy. Then I turned 10. My parents said the free ride was over. WHAT? I was getting an allowance. AN ALLOWANCE! All of the things that I fully expected would be provided to me were now subject to the accomplishment of duties … WORK.

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When The Pickens Sentinel offered me a monthly column, I wasn’t sure if people would actually read it. When someone I hardly know came up to me at the Y and said, “I love your column. It’s like reading your diary,” I was validated.

Here is my last column about Camp iRock for this year. It’s the one I’ve been dying to write. It’s about success.

Dear Diary,

Camp iRock is over and I can’t let it go. I miss everything about it, especially the children. I keep looking at the pictures and videos trying to capture the essence of Camp iRock. I’ve got it bad.

I am not...

I simply can’t believe it. After a year of planning, recruiting, fundraising … with a little anxiety thrown in … Camp iRock is over. I feel both elated and a wee bit sad.

My Camp iRock “sisters,” Alida Gardiner, director of operations for the Pickens County YMCA, and Traci Boyles, director of early education for the School District of Pickens County, and I have spent countless hours marveling at how many lives have been profoundly changed by Camp iRock.

The children didn’t just improve their reading skills, they grew in so many ways. They became more confident, more...