Community Spirit Award: United Ministries
There’s wisdom in that old adage, “Give a man a fish and he will eat today; but teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” That philosophy lies at the core of United Ministries’ mission to serve and empower those on the transformative journey to self-sufficiency. “Our vision,” states board member Katherine Smoak Davis, “is a community working together to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to thrive in Greenville.”
“We call it empowerment,” explains Reverend Tony McDade, UM’s executive director. “It means equity of opportunity. Empowerment says that people have within themselves the reservoir to draw on, but sometimes they need additional help.” That might mean helping a single mom obtain her GED and start a higher-paying job so she can support her family, providing financial assistance to an elderly man to pay his utility bills, or giving a homeless person a place to take a shower and wash his or her clothes.
On the cusp of their 50th anniversary in 2020, United Ministries—with its staff of 30 employees and a cadre of 1,500 volunteers—helps as many as 6,000 people a year change their lives through a holistic approach of providing crisis assistance, and giving them access to adult education, employment programs, housing, and financial counseling.
Their reward? According to McDade, it’s “seeing the extraordinary generosity and hospitality of the entire community, and the incredible resiliency of people who are struggling with poverty but who aspire to the same thing everybody else aspires to: having a life of meaning.”
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“At IBERIABANK, we feel strongly about supporting our local community and are proud to be the 2019 Community Spirit Award sponsor. We congratulate United Ministries for this well-deserved award and their dedication to ensuring everyone has the opportunity to thrive in Greenville.” – Sam Erwin, Carolinas Regional President, IBERIABANK