BC United Way good as gold at 50

Published 9:31 pm Thursday, October 25, 2012

Beaufort County United Way officially turned 50 Thursday night, as friends and supporters descended on the Washington Yacht & Country Club for a birthday celebration.
Mark Hamblin, the director for the organization, said the recognition was technically past due.
“If you’re mathematically inclined and you look at the website, well, you may think, ‘Wait a minute — that’s 51 years,’” Hamblin laughed.
The Beaufort County United Way was started in 1961, but taking into consideration last year’s transition from one director, Mary Elizabeth McNeill, to the next, Hamblin, add a devastating hurricane, and the big anniversary was postponed, Hamblin added.
But Hamblin did not postpone the message of the difference United Way makes in Beaufort County. A five-minute video played at the event highlighted four people whose lives had been greatly affected by the organization — people who had contributed to United Way in the past, only to unexpectedly have to rely on the organization to get them through tough times. One was a client of Eagle’s Wings, another, someone who had lost everything to Hurricane Irene last year.
“We take care of folks in crisis,” said Hamblin, adding that a crisis comes in many forms from poverty to natural disaster.
As an example, Hamblin described some of United Way’s role in the aftermath of Irene, how the organization became the intermediary for information and funds to those in need: all phone calls to the 211 line activated in eastern North Carolina were fielded by the United Way office; it managed and dispersed the significant fund Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan donated to the recovery effort.
Since 2000 — as far back as the computerized records go — the United Way in Beaufort County has raised $3.6 million. Many of the people, and businesses, that have assisted in making that possible were recognized last night.
United Way’s primary role is to raise money, through campaigns in businesses and in schools. What they raise helps the county as a whole as it is funneled through organizations serving the community, organizations that channel their efforts into improvements in education, income and health.
“What we’re trying to do now is get involved with organizations that are trying to look at the root cause of some of these problems we’re facing as a community,” said Hamblin. “We’ve got to find a way to impact those things … bring groups together around these issues.”
Hamblin envisions partnerships with nonprofits, businesses and government paving the way for the next 50 years.
“It’s our mission statement: ‘neighbors helping neighbors.’ It’s so simple, yet it says so much,” Hamblin said. “I’ve got a lot of faith in the people of Beaufort County. Let’s take care of our own.”