Hundreds packed into the Savannah Civic Center for the United Way Kickoff Thursday. Music from Free Spirits Orchestra and United Way volunteers greeted the many guests from the coastal empire.
Pastor Ricky Temple from Overcoming by Faith Ministries offered an inspirational prayer before Savannah’s own Kim Gusby from WSAV-TV took center stage.
Kim Gusby read the many accolades of Deb Thompson who is the president of the United Way Coastal Empire.
“Deb is a champion of our community,” Gusby said. “People will tell you the only thing bigger than her heart, is her dreams.”
When it was time for Thompson to take the stage, she led with a question to the audience, “trust, hope, belief, expectations, and aspirations. What do all these words have in common?”
She explained that those words are what drive the community to the goals of the United Way. She also expressed gratitude to be surrounded by people who help ‘make it happen’.
During her speech the Liberty County Delegate Team received a special shout out for their service and work in the community.
A video was then shown with families that received help from the United Way for their children with disabilities, before a discussion led by WTOC’s Dawn Baker ensued.
On the stage with Baker was Paul Egan of the Salvation Army, Patti Lyons from Senior Citizens Inc., and Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman.
The group discussed how the United Way assisted in both Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Matthew.
“It was scary, and it happened two years in a row,” said Mayor Buelterman. “Many people don’t know that Irma had worse flooding than Matthew.”
“It’s after [a hurricane] when communities show what there made of,” Lyons said.
Once the discussion was over, the 2018 Campaign Chair Larry Silberman of WTOC made his entrance in musketeer attire, playing into the character campaigns of former chairs.
“When it comes to the United Way, we’re all for one and one for all,” Silberman said which is the theme for this year’s campaign.
The theme for 2016 was “Be the One”, followed by 2017’s theme “One By One.”
Following Silbermans remarks was a prize giveaway for a Caribbean cruise and a pacesetters report from Chief Terry Enoch of the Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools.
The kickoff concluded with Silberman’s goal announcement for 2018 campaign.