One of the vital organizations in the Hartsville non-profit community remains the Hartsville United Way. While support for this organization has fallen in many communities the Hartsville United Way, under the direction of Joann DeLong, Executive Director, is currently working with 13 community partners to impact education, income and health in our community. “Our fund drive goes on from September to March to raise nearly $300,000 for the variety of United Way programs.
Taking over the role of Executive Director three years ago, DeLong noticed that more needed to be done in the Hartsville community. While previous years focused only on providing funding to its partners, DeLong started forming initiatives that focused on filling gaps that needed attention in Hartsville. Calling herself a resource person, all she had to do was ask what people needed, and from there she got to work.
She started initiatives like Coats 4 Kids, which collects coats, gloves, hats and scarves for Carolina Kids and the schools in Hartsville that need them during the winter, and the Born Learning Trail, which in partnership with Darlington County First Steps, uses everyday moments to teach young children at Byerly Park and Pride Park. She also started collecting Peanut Butter and Jelly and accepting donations to provide Carolina Kids with food bags for the weekends. She even has Turkey Drives and Diaper Drives, distributing over 50 turkeys and many numbers of diapers, wipes, and clothes to those who need them. Starting initiatives like has helped DeLong and United Way achieve its ultimate goal of “creating a greater community impact right here in the Hartsville area.”
When speaking about her drive and reasons why DeLong took over the role as Executive Director, she stated: “everyone needs to go through poverty once.” For her, it was when she was growing up. “Having these experiences changes one’s perspective and now my mindset is if I can help someone, I’m going to help them.”
This post was written by The Byerly Foundation Intern, Kyndle Cobb, as he continues to write about the movers and shakers in Hartsville.