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Pooler Magazine

COMMUNITY AID FULL-STEAM AHEAD: Brynn Grant and the United Way of the Coastal Empire Offer a Lifeline Amid the Pandemic

COMMUNITY AID FULL-STEAM AHEAD:  Brynn Grant and the United Way of the Coastal Empire Offer a Lifeline Amid the Pandemic

Story by Katrice Williams | Photos Supplied by United Way

Brynn Grant, CEO and President of the United Way of the Coastal Empire (UWCE), is committed to doing the most good for every county that the organization services. A wife and mother of five, Brynn—born and raised in Liberty County—has lived in Chatham County for almost 30 years and has a sincere interest in the well-being of her community.

Brynn obtained her current role at UWCE in February, just before the massive surfacing of the COVID-19 pandemic. Brynn possesses an array of noteworthy achievements. Whether Vice President of World Trade Center Savannah or Chief Operating Officer of the Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA), Brynn brings over 30 years of value-added experience to the UWCE team.

She recalled that one of her greatest moments, professionally, was being a member of the SEDA team that worked to establish JCB in Pooler. Brynn has helped Chatham “grow and attract business and create jobs” for over 19 years.

Brynn has long taken pride in all the assistance UWCE persists to offer individuals. She understands the sheer necessity of the resources that her team strives to provide to its region, especially during such an unparalleled time. “I have long been an advocate for thinking regionally, so I love that this job allows me to be involved in the region as a whole,” she said.

Even more, Brynn has seen the rapid growth that Pooler itself has experienced over the past few years, and she understands the ways that UWCE greatly benefits the area, filling need-gaps that may be otherwise unserviced. The team understands that Pooler, like other areas in the region, has its own unique needs; there has been an increased demand for resources since March.

The COVID Rapid Response Fund has consistently grown over the past few months; it continuously provides invaluable aid to clients who qualify for the direct service. What is more, there is now over $600,000 that has been raised, with over $450,000 having been dispersed to date, providing assistance to over 1,200 clients.

Whether restructuring organizational goals and priorities, working remotely or canceling events, the team has experienced a multitude of changes within the organization since the pandemic began.

UWCE, however, still plans to have a successful annual campaign which runs from September through November. It is the organization’s most substantial fundraising effort. About 70-80 UWCE volunteers diligently work alongside partnering agencies to evaluate financials in order to make helpful recommendations to the board about how the campaign funds should be allocated.

The board then decides on specific programs to invest in—those yielding clear and desirable outcomes for the community. Eager to begin strategic planning for the future, Brynn is looking forward to the campaign. “We need to have a very successful annual campaign if we are to have the greatest impact. Nonprofits are important; that part of the social services infrastructure is vital. I hope that those who can give will give,” she stated.

 Brynn sees the enormous value in her team; she is thankful for their hard work and responsiveness during this time. “This team is so dedicated, not only to United Way, but to this region. Even in difficulty, they have the highest good in mind; that’s impressive to me. I am very grateful to have joined a team this strong,” she remarked.

Another individual also spoke of how grateful he is for the UWCE team. Ernest Deshazer was part of a company lay-off in May due to the pandemic; Ernest’s fiancée was laid off from her job as well. Moreover, the couple is expecting a little one in just a few months. “COVID-19 has definitely had an effect on our lives; I see how it has affected other families as well,” he said.

Long being dedicated to his career and possessing a firm work ethic, Ernest found himself in an unfamiliar set of circumstances; he contacted the UWCE team for rental assistance via the 211 hotline. “It made a world of a difference; it helped with peace of mind. It was a smooth process. They were very professional and helpful,” he added.

Ernest has been familiar with United Way for a long time. Interestingly enough, while employed at the Coca-Cola Company some time ago, he worked in payroll deduction for United Way for over five years.

He also enjoyed helping others by donating to the organization. Appreciating how UWCE has blessed his family, Ernest looks forward to paying it forward again someday. “It is something that I will definitely get back involved in once things get back to normal. I want to do my part to help the next family that comes along,” he commented.

Brynn encourages the community to get involved and become even more familiar with the organization. “I hope more people will engage with United Way and understand that we are the mechanism that was created by this community for this community.”