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Veteran United Way Donor Gains New Perspectives

Jamie McLendon has been involved with United Way for nearly thirty years. She and her family own Pineora Handi-House, a builder and manufacturer of portable storage structures in Effingham County. In the mid-1990s, when she and her husband took over the family business, a local United Way board member would stop to chat. He came each year to share what was going on with United Way and they would donate.

Over the course of a few years, a friendship developed. Soon enough, her growing interest led to Jamie herself being recruited to join the United Way board and represent Effingham County. She accepted and a lifelong learning process began.

“At our monthly meetings, I learned just how much United Way was helping people out. I knew they did a lot in our county, but the regional organization was doing things I never knew,” Jamie said.

Personal growth was an unexpected benefit of volunteering with United Way. In September, when board members are out and about, meeting groups at schools, Jamie found herself in an unusual spot.

“Doing that kind of work was definitely not in my comfort zone, but it turned out great. It helped me get out into the community and meet people and learn a lot. Seeing how United Way works from both sides changes you,” she added.

From both a donor and a fundraiser perspective, she saw different ways caring people engaged with United Way to make a real, positive impact on the community at large and in individual lives. After her term on the board ended, Jamie’s newly acquired appreciation for United Way executive volunteers prompted her to remain active in the organization.

A service she always spreads the word about, more so recently for those still feeling the effects of the pandemic, is the 211 hotline for United Way assistance. Jamie makes it a point to explain how 211 works, and what a wonderful resource it is to get help.

Her response to the growing need in her community during the pandemic reflected her lessons on perspective. In 2020, she was fortunate in that her business was thriving. Jamie did notice, however, that many local businesses directly impacted by lockdowns and restrictions were struggling. She was impressed that some were still running promotions to benefit United Way, despite their own difficulties.

“I thought if they were still trying to help in tough times, we can do more since we’re lucky enough to be doing all right. If we’re blessed, we should do more to help others,” Jamie explained.

She increased her donations to the United Way Community Fund, knowing it would do the most good at a time of unexpected economic hardship. Seeing what was happening and knowing how much impact United Way has in the four counties, made it an easy decision.

“When you know how dedicated and wonderful people who work with United Way are, you feel good knowing you’re helping to make a difference in someone’s life,” she says. “I’m happy to be in a position to pick up the slack when others are hurting. One day it might be me who needs the help.”

Lifelong United Way partners like Jamie McLendon are pillars of their communities. They understand that people working together and helping each other can make a positive impact. They lead us all Forward United.


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