How did your nonprofit begin?
Our organization was launched in 1925 by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce and was initially known as the Community Chest. The first community-wide campaign that year raised its goal of $60,000 in support of a dozen local charities. Over the years, we’ve grown to serve Calhoun, Fairfield, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, and Richland counties.
What is your mission?
Our mission is to unite people and resources to improve the quality of life in the Midlands. We do this through direct programs and partnerships that promote resiliency, equity, and opportunity for everyone in the Midlands.
What differentiates your organization from other specialists in the field?
United Way of the Midlands serves a vital role in our community by filling in the gaps between government services and smaller nonprofits. Only United Way has the resources and local partnerships to provide large-scale solutions to pervasive community problems, like homelessness or lack of basic health services.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about your organization?
Many people may not know that we have a dentist on staff! United Way’s WellPartners Dental and Eye Care clinics offer dental and vision health services that provide preventive and restorative care to uninsured children and adults in the Midlands. The children’s clinic has been serving the Midlands for more than 50 years, thanks to our partners and dozens of volunteer dentists.
What are your goals for this year?
We’ve been through a lot in the past year, and many of our neighbors need our support to remain resilient. And our community needs a more equitable foundation, where everyone in the Midlands has the opportunity to live a safe, secure life. Our goals are to prevent homelessness, to provide eye and dental care to the uninsured, and to prepare students to enter kindergarten ready to learn, read on grade level by third grade, and graduate high school on time.