The Hinesville and Liberty County community gathered Sunday evening at the Cathedral of Praise to offer its thanks, and also showed its support for the United Way of the Coastal Empire.
The service’s offering was dedicated to the United Way of the Coastal Empire, under which the Liberty County branch falls.
UWCE CEO Brynn Grant, a Hinesville native, cited the service’s theme of “Stronger Together” as she gave her gratitude for the organization being the recipient of this year’s offering.
“Our mission is to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of community, because we are stronger together,” she said.
The United Way provides grants to non-profits such as Manna House, Helen’s Haven, Coastal Georgia Second Harvest and CASA to help those organizations with their endeavors. It also provides direct support, such as its 211 call center.
Grant cited the story of a teacher who became a domestic violence victim from her second husband, but then found out the home she was awarded was behind in rent and utilities payments. On the verge of being homeless, the victim got a flyer from the United Way in the mail.
A United Way supporter, that teacher was now in need of United Way help. She followed the steps to get a month’s rent paid and found out the United Way would pay three months’ rent. The teacher, Grant said, vowed to look for ways to share with others how the United Way saved her from eviction and homelessness.
The United Way of the Coastal Empire, Grant added, has impacted the lives of more than 206,870 people in its coverage area of Liberty, Bryan, Chatham and Effingham counties.
“Heavenly Father, we thank you for bringing together the Hinesville community, especially in this time of Thanksgiving. We are not just a community, but a family,” said Eric Burton, pastor of the Covenant of the Torch Church. “As we celebrate this annual Thanksgiving service, we ask Your strength and peace that we may live the rest of our lives with a heart of thanksgiving in serving You and others in our community.”
Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette tells others that Liberty is a community of “Yes, I can,” he said. Lovette said he had the utmost love and respect for the community and recalled letting a group know about Liberty County’s hospitality and diversity.
“I assured them the melting pot of Liberty County is rivaled by few counties in all of south Georgia,” he said. “Many nationalities and ethnicities reside exist in perfect harmony in Liberty County. We live in a blessed community. For that, we give thanks.”
Lovette pointed to the Dorchester Academy as a beacon of the community’s road from history and contributions to civil rights.
“There is more that unites us than there is that divides us,” he said.
State Rep. Al Williams said there is too much division over small things in today’s nation. He called former speaker of the state House David Ralston, who passed away last week, a close friend, even though Williams is a Democrat and Ralston was one of the most powerful Republicans in Georgia.
“We as a country have got to get back to being unified,” he said.
Thanksgiving commemorates people coming together after a difficult time, Williams said.
“We do not have the right to falsely label everything. Everything now is either a big lie or about to become a big lie,” he said. “There is one God and we need to remember there is one Jesus who died for our wrongs. This nation is teetering on losing its blessings. And I don’t care what color you are if hate is in your heart. Because this country is one nation under God.”
Fort Stewart’s impact on the community, and how it is ingrained in the larger community, also was noted.
“Hinesville means the world to us because it provides the community for our soldiers and their families,” said Lt. Col. Dan Urquhart, the installation chaplain. “We thank You for blessing our soldiers and their families and we thank You for blessing this community that they have been the ones to open arms and welcome our young soldiers who have left home from all over this nation to come here and be cared for. Take care of these soldiers and help this community continue to help them.”
Fort Stewart garrison commander Col. Manny Ramirez offered his thanks to the community around the post that supports its soldiers and activities.
“I have served in a lot of places around the world throughout my 24 years in the Army and I can’t think of a better place to call home than here,” Col. Ramirez said. “This community understands the value and the contributions and the sacrifices made by our Dogfaced soldiers and their families every day. We’re blessed with the most supportive neighbors here in the Coastal Empire. You do so much to take care of our soldiers and families.”
The 3rd Infantry Division’s Combat Aviation Brigade is preparing for a deployment to Europe, and the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team has a rotation to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., on the horizon. But for now, Fort Stewart soldiers are back to enjoy the holiday.
“This Thanksgiving I am very fortunate and very happy to be able to be home with my family,” Col. Ramirez said. “There have been several Thanksgivings I have spent away from the love and the warmth of family. But I ask that we remember those soldiers who are deployed right now, eating their Thanksgiving dinner in a deployed dining facility or on the hood of combat vehicle.”
Hinesville Mayor Allen Brown, who is a year away from ending his second of two-term runs in the office, said he is proud of what has happened in the community over the last couple of decades
“There is a lot of good stuff coming to our community. It has grown and changed,” he said. “I loved it when it was little old Hinesville. But we have kept that small town feel.”
Mayor Brown also commended the local leadership on working together for the community as a whole.
“I challenge you and me to show more gratitude and give thanks every day of your life,” he said.
Scroll to the bottom to watch VIDEO.