Blakely Roof, President, CEO United Way of Horry County

Our meeting’s speaker was Blakely Roof, fellow Rotarian who is the President and CEO of the Horry County United Way.  United Way is an organization all over the country with over 1000 branches.  Horry County United Way is self-governed and all of the money raised stays in Horry County. The job gets done with five employees in the local office.

The United Way of Horry County has three main service pillars: Health, Education, and Finance/Financial Assistance. United Way supports twenty-five service agencies in these categories including the Rape Crisis Center, Boys and Girls Club, YMCA (Education), several Helping Hands chapters, as well as multiple housing agencies (financial aid). Our local United Way has a few of its own programs including VITA (volunteer income tax preparation), Summer Literacy Camp, May Day bags (for seniors), and Disaster Relief. $275,000 was recently distributed for disaster relief in partnership with other agencies.  For example, a family had to vacate their home due to flooding. House rebuilding was supplied by others, but the United Way filled the gaps to purchase a POD for the storage of household items.  
2-1-1 is a lesser-known program of United Way of Horry County.  This program is run by the state association of United Way and is serviced by Americorps and Vista workers.  These people answer calls and provide information on food, utilities, shelter, or any other need of persons in need.  This information clearinghouse has been particularly useful during the current pandemic recession as there are “new needy” that are unemployed for the first time and maybe trying to stave off eviction.  
In response to the COVID crisis, the United Way has coordinated with food agencies, the City of Myrtle Beach, and many others to meet new needs.  At some point the Horry County Schools’ food program closed suddenly due to employee illness, a coalition of agencies came together to meet this immediate need.
The United Way Annual Campaign begins in August and is based around employee contributions via payroll deduction through their employer.  Attempts are being made to diversify the fundraising as there are many Horry County residents that are retired and therefore not “employee-based”.
Written By: Scott Burleson