UNION COUNTY — Four local agencies received grants of $1,000 each from the Union Community Foundation.
The Union Community Foundation donated $1,000 each to four organizations — Union County Council on Aging, Union Services, Meals on Wheels and the Union County YMCA.
Representatives from each of the four organizations expressed their gratitude for the donation and discussed their respective organization’s plans for the funds.
Council on Aging
Tim Black, first-year Executive Director of Union County Council on Aging, said the grant will be used to purchase meals for the senior citizens served by the Union County Council on Aging. Black said 15 cents for every dollar goes toward an in-kind match, which will help on state and federal levels.
“That money will go a long way to help our seniors have meals in Union County, especially right here at Christmastime,” Black said. “That money is a blessing from God, really.”
Black said he is thankful for the support shown by the community, as caring for seniors has always been his passion.
“Like today, Santa visited all three of our sites,” he said. “I watched the live video on Facebook, and just to see the smiles on their faces — to see them light up — is special. Some of our seniors don’t have many relatives around, and some don’t have any at all. I love for them to feel appreciated.”
Black said sometimes people tend to forget about the elderly when they are looked at as a liability and no longer an asset.
“I just can’t do that,” he said. “We do everything we can to make their lives as enjoyable and peaceful as possible. We can make a difference in their lives, and that’s the reason I took this job. I consider it a blessing to have this job.”
Black said the Council on Aging’s efforts to make sure local seniors don’t feel overlooked include daily meals, a food pantry, a backpack ministry, and shelf-stable meals which are non-perishable items seniors can take home.
“Some people may not realize this could be the only time these seniors get a nutritional meal for the day,” he said. “That’s why we started the shelf-stable meals.”
Black encourages members of the community to donate time and visit with the seniors there.
“They all have a story to tell,” he said. “Every one of them is different, and every one of them is interesting.”
For more information about Union County Council on Aging and the services it offers, call (864) 429-1682.
Carol Whitener, Day Services Director at Union Services, also said her organization’s grant is much needed and appreciated.
Union Services is a day facility for adults with intellectual disabilities, where training is offered in social skills and employment skills. Many of those served are employed throughout the community. Whitener said Union Services serves around 85 people per day.
Whitener said although the decision has not yet been made as to what the funds will be used for specifically, she said it will be something for the people the agency serves, not to pay bills. Whitener said past grants have gone toward the purchases of a big screen TV and a Nintendo Wii, as well as a bowling trip for the entire workshop.
“The community is wonderful to the people we serve,” Whitener said, naming gestures such as monetary donations, small gifts, musical performances and devotions. “There is always somebody doing something for them. We are very thankful for the support shown by members of the community.”
Whitener said she encourages people to drop by Union Services — located at 737 Industrial Park Road, Union — at any time to visit and find out more about what they do. Whitener said a phone call is not necessary for a visit, but those who would like to call for more information may do so at (864) 427-7651.
Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels Treasurer Jim Stepp accepted the check on behalf of the group Tuesday morning and said that the donation is greatly appreciated and will be used by Meals on Wheels to pay for the meals delivered by its volunteer drivers.
“The money will be used for the procurement of the meals we deliver people,” Stepp said. “It will all go to the meals as we have no overhead.”
Stepp said that Meals on Wheels delivers approximately 60 meals a day to residents in Union and Buffalo as well as one daycare center in Union. He said that the money given by the Union Community Foundation will enable Meals on Wheels to purchase a week-and-half’s worth of meals.
Meals on Wheels is an all-volunteer organization which relies on private donations and fundraisers. All the funds it uses go to purchase meals for its clients. Those meals are provided by Union Medical Center and Midway BBQ.
Stepp said that the group is always in need of and always seeking new volunteers. He said it is also always seeking new clients to serve.
For more information about Meals on Wheels and/or to volunteer or refer a potential client call 864-427-1598.
“Meals on Wheels wishes everyone a Merry Christmas,” Stepp added.
Scott Sandor, CEO of the Union County YMCA, thanked the Foundation and described the donation as “an unexpected gift which is always awesome for the YMCA or any other organization working for the community.”
The YMCA is currently conducting a “capital campaign” to raise funds to purchase new equipment for its fitness center. Sandor said that the money donated by the Foundation will go towards the YMCA reaching its fundraising goal. He said that the Foundation’s donation, along with that raised from other sources, has enabled the YMCA to raise a total of approximately $70,000. Sandor said that plans are to wrap up the effort by the end of this year and use the funds raised to purchase the new equipment.
In addition to providing its clients with new equipment, Sandor said the fundraising enables the YMCA to avoid having to borrow funds and divert its resources from serving its clients to servicing the debt it would incur. He said this way the YMCA can concentrate on providing the services the community needs and continue growing its membership while holding down costs.
With a small full-time staff, the YMCA operates seven days per week, nearly year-round. For more information about the Union County YMCA and the services it offers, call 864-427-0668 or visit its website at unionymca.org.
Union Community Foundation
The Union Community Foundation is a local, non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging the development of a community tradition of philanthropy by assisting individuals, families, corporations, businesses, and charitable organizations to establish funds in support of organizations and entities that will provide for the mental, moral, intellectual, and physical improvement, assistance, relief, and well-being of the citizens of Union County. The foundation came into existence in 2006 with the first official board meeting — chaired by the late Col. William “Jack” Whitener — on April 28, 2006.
Foundation board member Bill Goodwin said the board sits down throughout the year to look at needs in the community and then votes on which agencies will receive grants. Earlier this year, the foundation gave $2,000 to the Miracle League of Union County to help them match another large grant. Goodwin said the foundation also pledged $4,000 to Union County Carnegie Library for their current matching fundraiser.
“So when they get within $4,000, we will put them over the top,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin said the foundation can always use donations itself, and those who would like to donate may call (864) 319-1097 or mail donations to the Union Community Foundation, 207 South Herndon Street, Union, SC 29379. Agencies that are interested in requesting a grant may send a written request to the same address.
Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-762-4128.