Centraide raises a record amount



United Way of the Coastal Empire today announced a record $13.1 million in total funds into and through the organization supporting the community in fiscal year 2021-22 – a figure at heart of today’s celebratory annual meeting.

This final figure, reported differently from previous years, fully reflects the work of the organization, including the impact of COVID-19 response efforts and legacy donations.

The breakdown reveals strong public and private sector support. Coordinated government programs include $3.1 million in emergency housing assistance funds processed by United Way in partnership with Chatham County. These dollars, paid directly to landowners and utility companies, have helped to safely house those hardest hit by the pandemic.

Totaling 1 $.8 million in sustainable support.

The community campaign, a direct result of workplace and individual donations, events and grants, totaled $8,182,173

Cecilia Russo Turner of Cecilia Russo Marketing chaired the year-long fundraising effort. “The donations of nearly $8.2 million are nothing short of incredible, especially as we faced another challenging year due to COVID-19,” said Russo Turner. “I am so proud of our volunteers, our donors and everyone who contributed to this incredible result. The resilience of this community brought our “No Grit, No Pearl” theme to life, and the generosity of the community was inspirational. »

In a busy and festive program at the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort, the organization praised the generosity of the community, the breadth of assistance provided by United Way, the value of the volunteers and donors who make it all possible, and the dedication of the board members and campaign leaders who continue to move the organization forward.

“The amount of work accomplished by United Way staff and community volunteers over the past year is staggering. In addition to the historic core of United Way’s work, including partnering with the most effective and efficient nonprofits in our four counties and direct services like 211, our team has treated millions of helpers. federal authorities, which our local governments have entrusted to our oversight,” said Jeff O’Connor, UWCE’s outgoing president. “And yet, for the size and complexity of the organization, our United Way is also agile. Six weeks ago, a deadly tornado hit Bryan County, and we were able to immediately mobilize resources to financially support our friends and neighbors.


The meeting also featured the presentation of the Craig Harney Spirit of Philanthropy Awards, a series of three awards that recognize giving, advocacy and volunteerism.

The Giving Award went to Michael Solomon, who has a long history with United Way and recently created the Business Champions program, in which volunteers, hand-picked by their company management, have significantly increased total donations assigned accounts.

County Commission Chairman Chester Ellis and City of Savannah Mayor Van Johnson presented themselves to receive the Advocacy Award for Chatham County and the City of Savannah. Both organizations have long been big supporters of the organization, running two of the best campaigns every year. But during the pandemic, the two have stepped up heroically. In particular, they have strengthened their partnerships with Centraide to help our community and our neighbours.

The volunteer award was presented to Austin Sullivan, who retired after a long career with General Mills, and has since offered his considerable talents to UWCE.


Mark Bennett, a longtime volunteer with the organization and senior director of government relations and community investment for Gulfstream Aerospace, will take the gavel as chair of the United Way board in 2022-23. He and other appointed board members were unanimously elected at the meeting. He introduced Cindy Robinett, Partner and Client Advisor at Sterling Seacrest Pritchard, as Campaign Chair for the upcoming one-year campaign.

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