Trident United Way AmeriCorps: Serving the Individual and the Community

Like you, many investors want to ensure that their dollars are maximized to create the greatest impact in our community. Through your generous investment in Trident United Way, our AmeriCorps Financial Stability Program is able to assist our neighbors developing their own financial stability, expand the capacity of local nonprofit organizations and schools and train the next generation of nonprofit leaders. 

1. Through your gift, AmeriCorps members assist our neighbors on their path to progress. 

Sara Elledge served two terms in Trident United Way’s AmeriCorps program. She served as a Family Navigator at the Berkeley and Dorchester Prosperity Centers, where she served 234 households, made up of 401 people, in her two years. As a Family Navigator, Elledge was a first point of contact for clients seeking help at the Centers and would assist them in determining a plan for progressing along the financial stability continuum. She recounts one of her first experiences at the Prosperity Center as she looks at a plaque that bears a Maya Angelou quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

“During my first week at the Berkeley Prosperity Center, I had an experience with a woman who had been picked up by the police for sleeping outside the library,” Elledge remembers. “She had left Atlanta and an abusive husband to start over in a different place and was looking for help getting a hotel. I found her some temporary help but also wanted her to fill out a housing application to get her somewhere permanent so she wouldn’t be hopping from hotel to hotel. She was crying and I was looking around for tissues but couldn’t find any anywhere – all I had was a cup with about 100 pens. When I finally found some and had consoled her, I gave her a pen and she started crying all over again. She said I was the nicest person and no one had ever done something like that for her. She’s probably forgotten by now that I gave her a pen, but I know she remembers how I listened to her story.”

2. Through your gift, AmeriCorps members are able to expand the capacity of local nonprofits.

The Prosperity Centers weren’t the only place that Sara was able to build capacity. In her second year, Sara began working with SC Thrive in addition to her duties at the Prosperity Centers. SC Thrive is a statewide nonprofit that helps clients apply for a multitude of resources in a single interview using a web-based system called The Benefit Bank. Additionally, SC Thrive provides free tax preparation services to qualifying individuals. Sara hosted tax clinics at schools and places like the Baldwin-Carson Community Outreach center, a satellite facility of East Cooper Outreach Center. In addition to coordinating free tax clinic logistics and promotions, Sara prepared taxes and counseled over 100 families, saving her clients roughly $25,000 in tax prep fees.

“Sara was one of our leading tax counselors and took on more of a leadership role in 2017 by assisting clients in connecting with resources at various SC Thrive partner agencies throughout the Tri-County area,” SC Thrive Chief Community Relations Officer Stephanie McGuire said. “Having AmeriCorps members serve in this capacity helps the agency, the clients and the community as a whole.”

Trident United Way AmeriCorps members recorded a total of 18,013 service hours at 10 partner agencies and 12 Tri-County schools in 2016-17. These agencies and schools were able to serve more clients that came to them for assistance as a direct result of your investment and the Trident United Way AmeriCorps program.

3. Your investment in Trident United Way creates a pipeline of nonprofit leaders for tomorrow.

Sara was one of five AmeriCorps members who re-enrolled for a second term in 2016-2017. She and her veteran colleagues assumed mentorship roles to help first-year members. She spent the second year fine-tuning her skills, networking and reflecting on where she wanted to take her career. Her early experience with the woman looking for housing had made an impact on her and she knew she wanted to work in human services. Her AmeriCorps connections helped her land a job as a financial eligibility specialist at the Elijah Wright Health Center, a rural healthcare facility located in Cross that is part of the Fetter Health Care Network.

“Our AmeriCorps members are equipped with a wealth of knowledge and training,” Trident United Way AmeriCorps Program Manager Joselyn Johnson says. Alumni from TUW’s AmeriCorps program serve in a variety of roles in nonprofits throughout the region.

Trident United Way’s AmeriCorps program turns 10 as the organization prepares to welcome its 2018-2019 members. Because of your continued investment in TUW, that means a decade of expanding capacity for our local nonprofits and schools to assist our neighbors in building their own path to financial stability while simultaneously preparing a future generation of nonprofit leaders. We thank you.