Spring 2020 Neighbors Helping Neighbors

If you have not heard, 2019 was a big year for Greater Valdosta United Way. For starters we purchased a new forever home at 1609 N. Patterson St. The purchase of the new office was made possible through a donation left by Mr. Bruce Williams. Mr. Williams was a life long supporter of the United Way, and in honor of Mr. Williams the new building has been named after him. The office was built in 1910 and is located across from the north campus of the main campus of Valdosta State University. The property also holds a separate building in the back that has been renovated to be a teaching space for financial education classes as well as a meeting place for local nonprofits to use at no cost to them. The center was named in honor of Brantley and Barbara Jenkins for their gracious support of the Greater Valdosta United Way and the community.

All of this could not be done without someone to take charge and Michael Smith was that someone. Taking the position of Executive Director, on July 01, 2019 Michael hit the ground running and shows no signs of slowing down. Michael is a lifelong resident of Lowndes County. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from Valdosta State University, serves in leadership roles in both the local nonprofit and private sectors, and a successful business owner. Michael is married to Kori Smith and they have two daughters; Aubrey, 10 and Mary Allen, 8. Michael is passionate about his role as Executive Director and helping our community come together to create a better place to live for everyone in it. This year also proved that people and businesses in our communities truly care. There is no better way to show that than to volunteer and that is what the Valdosta Junior Service League, individuals and businesses in our communities did. We had between 300 and 400 volunteers lend a hand at Greater Valdosta United Way’s Annual Days of Caring on August 23 & 24, 2019. United Way, along with Valdosta Junior Service League, many volunteers and local businesses assisted 17 local nonprofit agencies with projects that may not have been possible due to a lack of funds or staff. The generosity of the community did not end there, we along with VSU Athletics came together on two separate occasions for the students to show their love for the community by sharing United Way’s mission. VSU showed their support at a football game on October 5, 2019 where they defeated Mississippi College and then again on the basketball court where both the men and women’s teams took the win over Auburn University at Montgomery. During the holiday season United Way did not slow down! We wanted everyone to know the United Way mission and one of the ways we did that was partnering with local businesses to hold events that are fun for the community while educating them at the same time. One of those events was our 4th Annual Charity Golf Tournament held at Kinderlou Forest on November 19th. Prince Automotive Group was our main sponsor. It was a day of friendly competition among golfers while educating them about what the United Way and its partner agencies do. November also brought other partnerships to life. We partnered with Georgia Beer Company for November and December to collect Toys for Tots. We also partnered with Recoil Trampoline Park on November 26th for a day of fun for the kiddos and their parents over the Thanksgiving holiday all while giving 10% of the proceeds raised that day to United Way. Recoil raised over a $1,000 that went towards the 2020 Campaign goal of $750,000. The fun continued with joining of forces with Wild Adventures Theme Park. Wild Adventures sold tickets for $15 for a one day ticket in November for their Days of Thanks and a portion of the proceeds raised was donated to Greater Valdosta United Way.

Finally, to wrap things up for 2019, Greater Valdosta United Way threw a United Way New Year’s Eve Roar Into 2020 PARTY! The celebration took place on December 31st at The Patterson in beautiful downtown Valdosta. The festivities began at 9PM and roared into 2020 ending at 1AM January 1st. The evening was filled with music from a live band, appetizers, dessert and drinks. The theme of the night was Roaring Into 2020 with a 1920s dress attire. We had tons of fun while educating everyone in attendance about the United Way. We highlighted several of the events and things that happened in 2019, but we just could not fit everything into this newsletter.

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