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Neighbors must step up for others

It is amazing how a pledged donation can improve a person’s life.
“We have more volunteers and generate more hours in Screven County than the other eight,” said Margie Peavy of the Senior Companion Program, one of the 22 agencies supported by the United Way of Screven County.
Peavy said the oldest program volunteer is 102 years old and the youngest is 60.
“This service has been a Godsend,” she said.
Being grant-funded, the companion program must raise 10 percent from local dollars and the United Way assists with that.
When sons, daughters and others who serve as care givers to parents and grandparents need to go to their occupations, the volunteers serve as companions, Peavy said.
“It takes a great burden off of you,” she said.
At the annual United Way campaign kickoff Sept. 1, Peavy read some survey comments from clients.
“I am very pleased with my companion,” one client wrote. “I give her the key to my mailbox and she brings my mail to me. I am on my walker 24-7.”
“She is a sweet person. I love her and she loves me,” another client wrote.
An amputee client said her companion helps around the house.
In another survey comment, the child of a client wrote about the positives of the program.
“She is so precious and so good-natured,” said the writer of the parent’s companion. “They are perfectly matched. I hope she stays with my Momma forever.”
Sept. 1 was proclaimed as “United Way Day” in Sylvania and Screven County by Mayor Margaret Evans and Commission Chairman Stan Sheppard as the drive to meet the goal began.
Gathered in attendance in the First United Methodist Church social hall were supporters of United Way and agency representatives. The meal by Walls Diner was sponsored by Farmers And Merchants Bank and Planters Telephone.
“Our goal this year is $95,000,” said Rev. Willie C. Scott, who will serve as the campaign director. “We know the economy is in very bad shape, but the need is greater than the past. We need your support greater than ever.
“We can’t do it without your support,” Scott said. “We can achieve the goal set before us. If we go over it, that would be fine, but we don’t want to go under it.
“Don’t forget about those in need,” he said.
Donald Toole, the United Way president, said these are hard economic times, but asked those who could afford to give to please do so.
“This is a very special year for United Way,” he said.
To make a tax-deductible pledge, a check can be made payable to the United Way of Screven County at P.O. Box 27, Sylvania GA 30467. For the contribution to stay in the county, designate it for Screven.
For a pledge of $150, an individual can become a “Pacesetter,” but any contribution to the campaign will be readily accepted.
Of the money raised for United Way, 92 percent of all of it remains in Screven County for the local agencies. The additional 8 percent is designated for administrative and fund-raising services.
For more information or to make a pledge, contact Cathy Kight, executive director, at the United Way office at 564-1160.
The United Way of Screven County honored businesses Sept. 1 for their impressive funding of the campaign in 2008. Awarded were Timken, Sylvania Yarn Systems, Screven County Board of Education, AMI Kids (formerly Savannah River Challenge), Farmers And Merchants Bank, Queensborough National Bank And Trust, and Planters Telephone.
Funding from businesses and individuals will be needed this year to reach the $95,000 mark.
Along with the senior companion program, other representatives from various agencies informed those who gathered for the kickoff about how United Way funds benefit individuals.
The campaign focus is to raise funds that will help provide support to local agencies which assist individuals and families in need.
Barbara Brown said the United Way provides funds for the Council of Exceptional Children’s annual fall festival.
“Many kids will tell you it is the highlight of their year,” Brown said. “A lot of volunteers help with the festival. This festival would not be possible without the United Way.”
Brown said the Special Olympics now has more than 2.5 million athletes.
The Special Olympics motto: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
Brown said the local CEC has a group of students who routinely competes in the state winter games with the basketball competition being the area with the most recent big winners.
The CEC also holds a “Lunch And Learn” event that hosts a speaker who empowers and helps parents cope with the responsibilities of handling children. The summer version assists children while they are out of school.
“Without your support, many of these things would not be possible,” Brown told the United Way supporters in the room.
Father Lou Lussier of Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Church said the St. Camillus Mobile Health Clinic program wants to expand out into other areas of the county. That is possible since the clinic has wheels, but funding must continue.
“The doctor’s office is in a trailer that gets hitched to where we need to go,” said Lussier of the Lussier said the clinic also has made a push to involve other community groups. He said they do not want the clinic to solely be a program operated by the Catholic church. The more people involved in the program the more patients who can be served.
“We could probably triple the number of doctors and nurses to staff the clinic,” Lussier said.
St. Camillus said the poor and sick are the heart of God.
 “We are doing an act of love,” Lussier said. “I support it with my work.”
The first year ended in June with the clinic and its three physicians saw 213 patients. Lussier said the grant that the United Way provided helped make that possible.
The clinic volunteer personnel include nurse practitioners, a dentist, and a nutritionist.
With the economy so terse, the local United Way funds six agencies available for citizens with crisis needs. Along with the mobile health clinic, the United Way helps provide funds for the American Red Cross Chapter, Screven County Hospital Outreach, Screven County Crisis Fund, Screven County Soup Kitchen, and Safe Haven.
Along with the Senior Companion Program, the United Way also assists the Team for the Elderly and Meals on Wheels. Adult agencies that are funded are the Screven County Tasc Force and Sylvania-Screven Citizen Center.
As for the local youth along with the Council of Exceptional Children, United Way funds Screven County Recreation & Parks, Screven County 4-H Club, Screven County Community Collaborative (umbrella for Cub Scouts, Department of Juvenile Justice and Teen Parenting Program), Screven County High School Athletic Department, Screven County Middle School Athletic Department, Reading Is Fundamental, Screven County High School Band, FFA Middle/High School Leadership Abilities, and Shades of Art.
The 2009-2010 officers are Donald Toole, president; Rev. Willie C. Scott, vice president/campaign chairman; Ed Thompson, past president; Deborah Dees, secretary; Dorothy Glisson, treasurer; and Cathy Kight, executive director.
Directors with the officers are Enoch Autry, Debbie Brown, Harvey Cryder Jr., Larry Gordon, Gaye Hill, James Kirkland, Cathy Lariscy, Ray Reynolds, Mary Robbins, George St. George, and Billy Stuart.