By Ruben Lowman
Local residents who need a little bit of help to get through difficult times will have a strengthened familiar ally moving forward, with increased collaboration and outreach efforts.
The United Way of Horry County (UWHC), one of the foremost charitable organizations for positively impacting local communities, announced that it will be switching some things up, offering new resources to those in need. The efforts are part of their shift in strategy that coincides with the organization’s release of their new “Community Game Plan”.
“United Way of Horry County must be a dedicated problem solver who will impact our community’s most critical social issues and build a stronger future,” said Blakey Roof, UWHC president and CEO. “Every decision we have made for our new direction will indicate this, beginning with our organization’s goal to fund, advocate, educate and collaborate.”
The organization released their new “game plan” to show a shift in strategy and how the plan will be put into action through collective impact, Roof explained. She described collective impact as the “commitment of a group of individuals from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem using a structured form of collaboration.”
The “Community Game Plan” was developed with the help of community volunteers, who formed four “Vision Councils” and assisted the UWHC team. Collectively, they reviewed data from the “Community Needs Assessment” the organization conducted last year, as well as conversations held with community members, and secondary research and statistics to better understand the community’s needs.
“We no longer want to be seen as just a fundraising organization,” Roof said. “We want to be part of solving Horry County’s complex issues, and working towards achieving these goals will require a new way to invest our resources, focus our funding, and build collective impact.”
The plan sets out to establish bold community goals in four main priority areas: health, education, self-sufficiency and basic needs. Each area is narrowed down to show the critical issues throughout the local communities of the county and how UWHC will work to address these primary needs at the root cause. The plan was adopted by the group through the new “Community Impact Model” and it will serve as the basis for grant funding to non-profit agencies and internal UWHC programs.
The plan consists of local data points regarding the four priority areas that will provide information to local residents in need. The areas will have a particular focus on children, mental health resources, self-sufficiency in families and unduplicated services of basic needs. Roof said that using a “results-based approach, UWHC’s capacity to make significant, sustained improvements for the well-being of Horry County will be strengthened to allow the community to move from talking about problems to taking actions to problem-solving through data-driven decision-making.”
Shifting to this new model has already shown success for the organization. UWHC was recently awarded a grant of over $600,000 from the federal government’s Community Development Block Grant COVID-19 (CDBG-CV) funds. The grants emanate from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “Breaking Barriers in Mental Health Program,” which provides consistent, onsite, out-patient mental health and substance use disorder counseling services to the homeless, uninsured, underinsured, low to moderate-income and the rural population at no cost.
The new strategy for the organization represents a key turning point for United Way and how they communicate with the local community using their outreach and resources.
“This is a new direction for our community fueled by the voices that matter,” Roof said.