On Thursday, Sept. 8, United Way of the Coastal Empire held its first in-person campaign kick-off since the onset of the pandemic in 2019. The kick-off took place at the Savannah Convention Center, and it was truly a joyous gathering. The theme for this year’s event was a Team United Tailgate Party, complete with cheerleaders, a marching band and truck beds stocked with snacks. Even Uga, the University of Georgia’s live mascot, was in attendance.
Cheerleaders from Georgia Southern and Savannah State kept the sizable crowd energized. And GSU’s Southern Pride Pep Band played throughout the event, further conveying the tailgate vibes. Local politicians, clergy, nonprofit directors, business leaders and other community members came out to support United Way.
The event began with networking in the River Concourse, and then everyone headed upstairs to the Chatham Ballroom for lunch. The kick-off was MC’d by local radio personality and community leader Mia Mance. And there were several notable speakers who addressed the audience as well.
United Way of the Coastal Empire Board Chair Mark Bennett opened by thanking everyone in the room for their continued support.
“Being a part of United Way for so long I’ve had the opportunity to witness the incredible work of this organization firsthand. . . The United Way is our organization, mine and yours. It’s an asset our community leaders created in 1938. It’s an asset we own, and we are all responsible to continue. The United Way mission is to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of our communities. And we are the caring power in United Way.”
Bennett also shared some statistics, noting that in 2021, the United Way of the Coastal Empire helped more than 206,000 individuals throughout Bryan, Effingham, Chatham and Liberty counties.
Other speakers included former NFL player Matt Stinchcomb, who gave the keynote address; campaign chair Cindy Robinett; campaign vice-chair Jay Wilson; and local business leader Kevin ‘Catfish’ Jackson.
The event culminated with a viewing of the 2022 campaign video, which featured personal stories of individuals helped by the United Way. If you have a desire and passion to help those in the community, consider volunteering with or making a donation to the United Way of the Coastal Empire. To learn more about United Way and how you can get involved, visit uwce.org/.