Celebrate the Sing United champion

More than $65,000 raised for community

With nearly 50 musicians vying for the grand prize, Sing United just crowned a champion! James Island-based band Gritty Flyright took home the top prize in a spirited final Monday night against Berkeley High School senior Shyleah Booker.

In difficult economic times, Trident United Way launched a new and unique fundraising event and community response was overwhelming. Including the final round, the event raised more than $65,000 to support community programs.

The playoff style bracket featured competitors facing off in weekly competitions where the most votes would move to the next round. Each $1 donated equals a vote.

If you missed it, listen to one of the songs that got Gritty Flyright and Shyleah to the finals!
Pictured above: Monday night's party for Gritty Flyright in a James Island neighborhood

Gritty Flyright is a Charleston collective that taps into multiple instruments including guitar, saxophone, harmonica, percussion, fiddle and banjo. Founder and singer/songwriter Wes Liston leads the eclectic group of talented musicians by merging elements of Blues, Country and Soul to present an authentic and undeniable sound.

Gritty Flyright will receive a package of prizes donated by sponsors, including the opportunity to perform with Sofar Sounds, opening for an upcoming show with Firefly Distillery and Ear for Music, $2,500 cash prize, produced music video, private photoshoot and an electronic press kit including website, domain and one-year hosting.

None of this could be possible without our wonderful sponsors!

Thanks to prize donors Gina’s Venue, Jeanne Mitchum Photography, SoFar Sounds, Ear for Music, Firefly Distillery, Fox Music House and 7 Cinematics.

Thanks to bracket sponsors Charles Blanchard Construction Corporation, Coastal Roofing Company, Inc, Piggly Wiggly/C&S Wholesale Grocers, Elliott Davis and Charleston Southern University.
COVID-19 new cases falling, but negative economic impact still lingers

Spring is bringing optimism as COVID-19 reported cases are declining in South Carolina and vaccines are now widely available to anyone age 12 and older. Getting our region back in financial shape is an ongoing challenge.

Past due rent is a big issue

Trident United Way's Resource Connection Centers in Berkeley and Dorchester Counties report typical past due rent requests were in the one to two month range prior to COVID-19. Now, many clients report being three to 10 months behind.

Employment update

Trident United Way VP of Evaluation & Public Policy Jonathan Rauh reports the hospitality industry will not have a full rebound this summer. Rauh says many travelers may not return to pre-pandemic spending levels and restaurants continue to navigate a new reality.

Charleston region hospitality employment is down 28% (April 2021 vs 2019)

211 Update

Our 211 Helpline is busy with the majority of requests for help with utilities and rent. As the graphic below shows, the needs keep setting records even as COVID-19 new cases drop. 

Literacy United progress report

Thanks to generous donors, Literacy United is generating results in its first year at Mt. Zion Elementary on Johns Island. Specialized monthly teacher training pulls everything together in what principal Anna Mims calls "a very effective intervention."

Ms. Parker's first grade class included two children who started the year as non-writers. Literacy United small group intervention sessions helped these two students to do letter and word work, writing words in their Elkonin boxes and sentences. (Elkonin box is phonemic segmentation practice - pictured above)

Trident United Way and our dedicated partners are helping Mt. Zion in a variety of ways:

  • Trident United Way delivered more than 24,000 school supplies, giving all 275 students a backpack with 85+ school supply items. Students began the year equipped, which freed up school resources for any other COVID-19 needs.

  • The PNC Foundation grant added more than 650 intervention books to the library to utilize with the program’s finetuned reader leveling structure.

  • The Gift Today (Kiawah Island group) gave nearly $14,000 to be invested in Literacy United.

The partnership of Trident United Way, CCSD and University of Florida Lastinger Center will continue through the 2022-2023 school years.
Book drive runs through Friday!
Please consider buying a book for our African American Leadership Council's 6th annual book drive. This link allows you to buy a book and volunteers will get them to schools in need.

You can also drop off a new or gently used book from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at these Charleston locations:

South State Bank, 2440 Mall Drive
South State Bank, 1995 Magwood Drive
Order of Eastern Star, 1001 King Street
Celebrating our volunteers

Dedicated volunteers fuel Trident United Way's community improvement efforts. They come from a variety of personal and professional backgrounds. Volunteers are the glue that keeps our community together.

We recently celebrated our volunteers during National Volunteer Appreciation Week, including a special webpage.

If you or someone you know would like to volunteer with us, please reach out by emailing volunteer@tuw.org.

Healthy Tri-County offers Food Access forum

Trident United Way, along with partners MUSC Health and Roper St. Francis Healthcare, fuel Healthy Tri-County (HTC), a multi-sector regional initiative designed to improve lives in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester Counties.

HTC recently worked with Tri-County dieticians on issues related to barriers to food access and give them access to resources to help their clients.

Dieticians conducted scenarios on meal planning for clients with tight budgets. Some groups had last minute barriers to give real-world examples of finding solutions for clients in times of crisis.

Experts from the Lowcountry Food Bank and Charleston County Schools also shared resources with the goal of providing a healthier life to people throughout the Tri-County.
To learn more about the Charleston Trident Dietetics Association, visit their Facebook page.
VIDEO - Celebrating a community service legend

This past year, we have shared many stories of perseverance and people coming together to serve. I do not have enough space in this column to thank so many who have risen to take on this challenge.

But I would like to recognize a person who has selflessly given 30 years of service to Trident United Way, our Associate VP of Community Impact: Cathy Easley.

Her passion for service and long institutional knowledge makes our community service actions the best they can be. She is in direct contact with community partners who serve people with various needs for assistance. 

Cathy can be relied on at all times to do the right thing, make the right call, treat others with respect, dignity and respond in all circumstances with humanity.

I recently asked Cathy to have a meeting with me in our Lane Family Boardroom. Well, I didn't reveal our "meeting" was actually a big surprise party for her, complete with her husband and daughters appearing both in person and remotely.

A few tears and hugs later, Cathy summed up her time this way: "I cannot even describe the honor and privilege it has been to be at this incredible organization for 30 years. The people I’ve met, watching this community be so invested in changing lives and making lives better and working together to make those lives better, it’s been an honor to be part of that.”

Video above: Cathy Easley's meeting with me, only to realize it's a big celebration!