The United Way is known to all of us; but what does it actually do? Kim Tanner told us exactly what it does for our community this past Wednesday morning. Kim is the Senior Director, Resource Development and Engagement Programs of the United Way of the Coastal Empire. A graduate of McGill University in Montreal, Kim discovered Savannah with AmeriCorps and began a career in non-profit management. After eight years’ experience in non-profit business she has now relocated to Savannah to serve our community as an officer of the United Way; she is also President of the Georgia Association for Volunteer Administration.
The United Way of the Coastal Empire is an umbrella organization deeply involved in most of the volunteer activity in Savannah. Through its entity “Hands on Savannah” it oversees many charitable institutions in Bryan, Chatham, Effingham and Liberty Counties. But what does it actually do? Kim told us………and more detail is available through

Need help? To do what? Join a volunteer group? To solicit the services of a volunteer group? To donate? To seek help for yourself? Your company? Your neighbor? Your own group? Dial 211 – you will find the answers to all these questions and more.

United Way has some 400 volunteer agency records in its data base, and last year received more than 16,000 calls for all kinds of assistance. This assistance was solicited for: basic human needs such as food, clothing, housing, financial help (rent, utilities, etc.), and youth services, health problems, education assistance, income tax, volunteer training, and more. A call to 211 will access: phone numbers, hours of operation, services available, eligibility, and location, of the charities best suited to the need for which the call is being made.

United Way solicits money from our community to support these works. It takes the responsibility of investing our donated money in charitable organizations very seriously. It calls upon the support of many investment volunteers who determine which charitable organizations can be held accountable to United Way standards of sound financial management while delivering meaningful services in an effective manner. United Way recruits volunteers, that is, people who work for the various charities, through the internet, social networks, fairs, civic groups, schools and businesses. It trains volunteers and offers on-going support and training for those volunteers, acting as a source of personnel for charities requiring suitable trained manpower.

In her presentation, Kim gave us some statistics for the first six months of the current year, 2015: 98 applications for program funding; 42 site visits to observe programs and services in action; $4.4 million invested in these effective programs. If we needed any further convincing of the desperate need for these efforts, the list of services provided in the relevant six months at the beginning of the current year tell us. They are, youth education, school readiness, academic help (after-school/summer programs), training for financial literacy, basic needs (hunger, homelessness), fed/state benefit help, tax returns, foreclosure problems, disease management and prevention, domestic violence, keeping children safe,, senior living assistance………..for all these functions, Kim’s presentation gave us the names of the charitable agencies involved; there are many, too numerous to list here.

At the end of Kim’s presentation, our member Toni Marwitz, an officer in Safe Shelter, the organization that offers refuge to women who are victims of domestic violence, paid tribute to United Way. Without their help, she said, there is no way Safe Shelter could operate as successfully as it does to shelter and help women who seek its haven of safety. Below is a photo of Kim with President Tom.