EASLEY- On March 9, the Greater Easley Chamber of Commerce presented its Annual Small Business Awards at Tri-County Technical College-Easley Campus. Sponsored by Sam’s Club of Easley, several businesses and individuals were honored for their leadership and community service.
Among those awards, United Way of Pickens County was honored as the 2017 Non-Profit of the Year, which recognizes an organization that has demonstrated a strong effort in successfully using its organizational mission and resources to improve the quality of life and business in Pickens County, along with working in close partnership with the business community to achieve the desired results.
In 1887, a Denver priest, two ministers, and a rabbi recognized the need for cooperative action to address their city’s welfare problems and created an organization to serve as an agent to collect funds for 10 health and welfare agencies, as well as coordinate relief and referral services and provide emergency assistance grants. That movement would spread throughout the country to become United Way, and for over 120 years, that organization still serves to mobilize the caring power of communities.
The organization we know as United Way of Pickens County was officially established in the 1950’s when a group of volunteers organized the Pickens County United Fund. The first campaign was held in 1962, raising $52,331 and funding 22 local agencies. The Pickens County United Fund became a corporation in December 1970 and in August 1975, the organization’s name was changed to United Way of Pickens County.
For over 20 years, under the passionate leadership of Julie Capaldi, our local United Way has worked to break down barriers and bridge gaps to assist individuals who struggle to meet the basic needs for their families. However, in recent years, our local United Way has placed a dedicated focus on addressing two critical needs in Pickens County: homelessness and literacy. In 2012, they sought out grant funding to help create a program to provide temporary housing for homeless families, which led to the formation of Family Promise of Pickens County. In addition, the United Way established the Ron Webber Fund for Homeless and Impoverished Children which provides resources for the School District of Pickens County Family Liaisons to assist homeless students.
To address literacy concerns, it’s important to understand the concept that “before 3rd grade, students learn to read. But after 3rd grade, they read to learn”. As a community, we all play a role in preparing our children for success. On that note, United Way partnered with the School District of Pickens County and the YMCA to launch Camp iRock, a summer literacy learning loss prevention program for at-risk children. And just two weeks ago, the Women United initiative was formally introduced to the community which will further address literacy programs with added volunteers and funding.
United Way’s success is anchored in the fact that they engage the business community to achieve its goals. Not only through workplace fundraising campaigns, the business community serves as board members, collects information to compile community needs assessment data, provides income tax assistance to citizens, and volunteers with many programs. United Way encourages the business community to not only give of their financial resources, but also of their time, talent and expertise.
Their tireless work, dedicated focus, community outreach, and passion all contribute to fulfilling the true purpose of United Way…. for our community to LIVE UNITED.
Please join the Greater Easley Chamber of Commerce in honoring United Way of Pickens County as the 2017 Non-Profit of the Year.