FLORENCE, S.C. - Sen. Hugh K. Leatherman Sr. visited the United Way of Florence County's Palmetto Street office on Monday morning for a meet-and-greet. 

As the United Way of Florence County enters its 65th year as a non-profit, Rachel Baggett, director of marketing and initiatives, said, the agency is preparing for a new campaign and thought it would be a great time to invite Leatherman to meet with them and their partnering agencies.

Baggett said the United Way is looking for ways to make a greater impact on the residents in need in the community.

She said if they want to do what is best for Florence County they need a partnership from the agencies to the legislators and all in between.

"The United Way hopes that by meeting with Senator Leatherman, they can forge a partnership with the South Carolina Legislature to increase the support for non-profits in Florence County," she said in a media advisory about Leatherman's visit.

Representatives from the United Way Board of Directors and from the agency's 17 nonprofit partners attended the meet-and-greet. Some took the opportunity to tell the senator about their services and some of their needs. Leatherman said agencies such as the United Way and their partners are invaluable to the wellbeing of the state.

"We almost can't put a value on it," Leatherman said.

He said the agencies do a fabulous job helping people, especially those who can't help themselves. He said more people should get involved.

The agencies representatives were given the opportunity to express their concerns about the health and human service issues currently affecting Florence County and what the agencies are doing to address those issues, Baggett said.

Much of the discussion at the meet-and-greet centered on education.

Many of the agencies deal with issues facing children that have an effect on their ability to perform well at school and to be successful.

Teachers for America was one of the agencies represented.

Kristin Garner with Teachers for America said the meet-and-greet on Monday was important to her organization because when they brought Teachers for America to South Carolina, Florence County was the first place they started.

"We know how important education is to students," she said.

She said the group has 20 teachers in Florence schools. Members are hired as full-time, salaried teachers and serve for two years in the classroom.

Christine Culp with Teachers for America said the teachers come from all over the country. She said their hope is the teachers will love South Carolina and will stay.

One representative said all the agencies support families and children. She said they are finding out what works for families and what does not.

The United Way of Florence County's office is at 1621 West Palmetto Street in Florence.

Baggett said in the media advisory that United Way has been a cornerstone of the social service sector in Florence County for 65 years. She said: "United Way of Florence County brings together citizens, community leaders, businesses, the faith-based community, local government, non-profit organizations, and many more to ensure measurable results on issues that require collective, not just individual, actions are delivered."

Article written by Ardie Arvidson
Originally published in the September 23, 2019 edition of the Morning News

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