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gsSCENE Votes for Favorite Grand Strand Charity

Feb 6, 2009

We asked members to submit their favorite charities for gsSCENE support and received fantastic response! With a dozen submissions it is now up to you, gsSCENE members, to vote on which area non-profits will receive gsSCENE support!

Voting is easy…just read the submissions below and click on the “Vote for this charity” link at the top of the page to submit your vote. Each gsSCENE member is allowed only one vote so choose wisely. Voting is open until midnight Friday, February 13, 2009. The winning charity will be announced March 1, 2009.

Best Regards,
Shannon D. Camp
gsSCENE Community Service Chair

Index of Submissions:


American Heart Association

Heart Disease and Stroke Are America’s #1 and #3 Killers…

Heart Disease

  • Nearly one million Americans die each year from cardiovascular disease (CVD), which includes heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and other diseases of the circulatory system.
  • CVD is South Carolina’s leading killer for both men and women among all racial and ethnic groups.
  • During 2005, 12,693 South Carolinians died from cardiovascular disease – more than the total number of people died from all cancers, pneumonia, influenza, and car accidents combined.
  • Heart disease and stroke accounted for 85,962 hospitalizations in South Carolina during 2005, with a total hospitalization cost of more than $3 billion.


  • Stroke is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States.
  • South Carolina had the second highest stroke death rate in the nation in 2003 and is among a group of Southeastern states with high stroke death rates that is referred to as the “Stroke Belt.”
  • Stroke is the third leading cause of death in South Carolina, resulting in 2,449 deaths during 2005.
  • African Americans are more than 46 percent more likely to die from stroke than Caucasians in South Carolina.
  • Stroke resulted in 14,459 hospitalizations in South Carolina during 2005.

The American Heart Association is the largest local volunteer driven health organization that focuses on the Waccamaw Area’s number one and number three causes of death- heart disease and stroke. We work with the local schools to educate and fight childhood obesity. We work with the community, businesses and local hospitals to increase awareness, educate, and promote a culture of physical activity to save lives right here on the Grand Strand.

Who do you know that has been affected by heart disease or stroke?

Non-Profit: American Red Cross of Coastal SC

Submitted by gsSCENE Members: Jenifer Sweat

Typically when someone hears the name “American Red Cross” they think of hurricanes, wildfires in California, blood donations, or national and international disasters. Although the local chapter teams up with the Horry County Emergency Management and a host of other organizations in helping to get our citizens and community ready for hurricane season and also there to assist by opening shelters and assessing damage after the storm, this by far, is not the only duties of our local Red Cross. The Coastal South Carolina Chapter of the American Red Cross assists the community with health safety such as CPR and First Aid training, lifeguard training and water safety to helping families contact loved ones serving in the military on assignment during a family emergency, i.e. the loss of a parent or birth of a child. In addition to these necessary and important tasks, the local Red Cross chapter is on standby for local emergencies such as assisting a family after a house fire. The local Red Cross chapter is not supported by National American Red Cross funds unless the President of the United States declares our community/county a “national disaster.”

What this means is that the local chapter is responsible for raising local funds to support local citizens. The Red Cross never turns anyone away after a house fire or devastating disaster. Day or night, 365 days a year, Red Cross staff and volunteers are on call to assist someone during emergencies. All assistance is FREE to its clients. There are numerous house fires that occur each month in our community, most of which are not reported on by the media, and your local Red Cross is there to assist with each of them if those affected choose to use their services. Volunteers are there at 2 a.m. to help that family with their immediate emergency needs which consist of food, shelter and clothing. In some cases the Red Cross is the only assistance for families after something as devastating as a home fire.

As someone who has been a local Red Cross staff member and is currently a Red Cross volunteer, I have witnessed first hand the amazing dedication and endless hours of assistance our local volunteers and staff members devote to our community. It is truly amazing to observe the selfless acts of so many in our community who are willing to assist those in need during the middle of the night. Other volunteers offer to leave their families and friends and their daily life to go on a national assignment for two weeks or more and help others in dire situations.

I ask you to please select your local Red Cross, the Coastal South Carolina Chapter of the American Red Cross, as the 2009 gsSCENE essay contest winner. The next call the Red Cross volunteers assist with could be to help your family, your friend or your neighbor. You can find out more about your local Red Cross by going to www.coastalscarc.org.

Non-Profit: Dalton & Linda Floyd Family Mentoring Program at CCU

Submitted by gsSCENE Member: Craig Stiller

The Dalton and Linda Floyd Family Mentoring Program at Coastal Carolina University is a fantastic opportunity for the young professionals of gsSCENE to get involved in shaping future young professionals at Coastal Carolina University. The purpose of this program is best stated by our mission statement:

The Dalton and Linda Floyd Family Mentoring Program at Coastal Carolina University is a civic/public engagement initiative preparing university students to mentor “at-risk” children in South Carolina Schools in an effort to increase the academic and personal success of

K-12 leading to increasing students overall graduation rate. The program also provides resources to Coastal Carolina faculty who incorporate mentoring as civic/participatory learning in their courses and works with university and community groups to promote mentoring and civic initiatives within the K-12 environment. The mentoring program supports the University in developing students that are educated, responsible, and productive citizens.

I believe there is no greater need in our community than to mentor at risk youth. South Carolina has one of the worst high school graduation rates in the United States. Approximately, half of South Carolina ninth graders do not complete high school in four years. A report released last year by “Diplomas Count,” a project by The Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, puts South Carolinas on-time graduation rate as fourth worst in the nation. Furthermore, the report estimates that 158 students drop out each school day in South Carolina. With this in mind, it is pivotal that we address South Carolinas educational issues. The Dalton and Linda Floyd Family Mentoring Program seeks to reverse this trend.

For more information, please visit the following website: http://www.coastal.edu/cec/mentoring/

Non-Profit: Family Outreach of Horry County

Submitted by gsSCENE Member: Erica Davis

I first became aware of Family Outreach a year a half ago. My mother had just overcome breast cancer and we decided to form a women’s group that volunteered and did monthly drives for local charities. We came across Family Outreach on the United Way website and immediately felt drawn to them. We scheduled a meeting with the director, Sherry Countain for the following week.

After spending one lunch with her you can’t help but to love her and admire her work. She is the most selfless person I know and has an innate drive to help others. Sherry gives her whole life to Family Outreach and its mission: preventing and reducing poverty, child abuse and neglect through educational programs designed to improve the quality of life for individuals and families.

Family Outreach recognizes that teen pregnancy and parenting are causes of poverty, and children of teen parents are at a higher risk of abuse and neglect. Their programs focus on Youth Development working to prevent teen pregnancy, prevent STD/HIV; character development, parenting education, continued education for pregnant and parenting teens; as well as information and referral to community resources.

Family Outreach works constantly raising awareness of teen pregnancy throughout schools in Horry County. Through Family Outreach, the Great to Wait program was founded and has helped turn around hundreds of girls lives. Many of them come back to volunteer after they have jobs or graduate. One of its main focuses is education and preparing the young mothers for the work force. The ultimate goal is to graduate from college and be self-sufficient. Family Outreach hosts monthly meetings with helpful life skills such as job interviewing, parenting, nutrition, etc.

Another area Family Outreach focuses on is proper prenatal care. Once a girl is referred into the program she is placed with a mentor who checks in with them regularly. They are also required to attend every Dr.‘s visit and parenting class. If they meet all these requirements they receive a welcome home basket for their baby. It is filled with layettes, diapers, etc. Since the majority of the girls in this program are in poverty this is extremely important and rewarding to them.

After they take baby home the staff of Family Outreach continues to be active in their life. They are still there to assist in anyway they can. Family Outreach does everything from providing diapers or formula when they can not afford to buy it, help getting their baby into day care, continuing to push education, and most importantly be a trusted friend and advisor.

Family Outreach’s success is largely based on the commitment of their director, Sherry Countain. She has given her life fully to Family Outreach to 20 years, founded instrumental programs, and helped Family Outreach become a vital part of this community. I ask you to consider Family Outreach to sponsor because they do not have the funding and name recognition that other charities are fortunate to have. Funding and recognition is difficult because Sherry is very careful not to compromise the integrity of the girls in her program. I believe additional funding brought in my gsSCENE would go a long way to help Family Outreach continue current programming and begin new projects to help teens in Horry County. I found the work and relationships I have formed while working with Family Outreach to be extremely rewarding and feel gsSCENE members will feel the same.

Non-Profit: Fostering Hope

Submitted by gsSCENE Member: Dan Sine

Here at Fostering Hope we understand that often times when children are brought into foster care they arrive with nothing but the clothes they are wearing. We will assist caseworkers and families by providing many of the basic items needed for the children. The Children’s Resource Center is stocked with clothes, personal hygiene items, school supplies, toys, etc. Our goal at Fostering Hope is to ensure that each of these children is given new or nearly clothes, shoes, toys, hygiene items, and a duffle bag upon entering care. The children are permitted to come back quarterly to receive additional items at no cost to the foster families. The items are available at no charge to DSS or the children. For emergency assistance, a caseworker can contact our center and we can provide a suitcase with age appropriate clothes and supplies that can be picked up within a few hours.

We also have the Hope Fund, which is for extracurricular activities such as music, dance, sports, etc. for children who are in long-term foster care. These activities are often the “little things” many of us take for granted that are not often available to children in foster care. Children will complete an application that will be reviewed by the Board of Directors Award amounts will vary depending upon the request and funds available.

We are in the process of developing a mentoring program that will promote building healthy self-esteems and making good choices. There will be a strong focus on academic needs, social skills, higher education/career exploration, and fun.

All items are provided to the foster families at no cost. We believe that by helping to support the foster families we can relieve some of the burden they assume when they welcome a child into their home and hearts. Fostering Hope relies solely on local contributions, both financial and in kind, to keep our facility open and operating. If you wish to visit Fostering Hope, we would love to have you take a tour. We are very proud of “the closet.”

Fostering Hope is a non-profit organization that provides goods and services to children residing in the foster care system in Horry, Georgetown, Marion, and Dillon counties in northeastern South Carolina. There are on average over 500 children within these counties that are in foster care due to abuse and or neglect.

Fostering Hope is always accepting new and nearly new clothing (preemie newborn to teen), toys, books, and other children’s items for our store.

When donating used items, please check for rips, stains or items that are well worn. Remember, if it is something you won’t put on your child anymore because it doesn’t look nice, another child wouldn’t want to wear it either.

Non-Profit: Grand Strand Humane Society

Submitted by gsSCENE Member: Amanda Bailey

When you adopt an animal from the Grand Strand Humane Society you adopt loyalty, compassion, and companionship. While adopting an animal or donating to support the Grand Strand Humane Society may not cure any disease or create jobs, it is guaranteed to warm your heart and make you smile. To me, that means a lot.

Since 1972, the Grand Strand Humane Society has been committed to providing for the humane treatment of homeless and abandoned animals, to provide excellent guest services to members of the community visiting the facility, to educate the public about responsible pet ownership and prevent cruelty to animals, provide low costs spay and neutering and basic veterinary services to lower income individuals and families, and finally to find loving homes for homeless and abandoned animals.

The Grand Strand Humane Society is very proud of its low euthanasia rate, currently at approximately 25% of our annual population. While the Humane Society is always looking for ways to reduce that figure further, current budgetary and space confinements limit the capacity. Currently, there are more and more animals coming into the Grand Strand Humane Society shelter ever day. Each animal needs to be cared for, spayed or neutered, and provided a loving home. While we can limit this cycle, we cannot stop it, for, as Abraham Lincoln said, “no matter how much the cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens.”

With the assistance of gsSCENE, the Grand Strand Humane Society can be successful in its goal of providing services to homeless and abandoned animals as well as to individuals in caring for their animals and improving their over all well being through pet ownership.

Non-Profit: Habitat for Humanity of Horry County

Submitted by gsSCENE Member: Robert Hucks

My favorite non-profit is Habitat for Humanity of Horry County (“Habitat”) and I believe gsSCENE should support this cause because of the significant impact it has not only on local families, but on Horry County as well.

In the words of a local Habitat homeowner “To me, Habitat is HOPE for all families. It allows us to all come together through community friendships as one unit, one family.”

When habitat builds and sells a home to a needy, deserving family (homes are sold for $69k with interest-free mortgages), so much good and potential is brought to that family. Dreams come true. Families that have never had a home or at least a safe and sound home now have one in which to house and raise their children. Children have a safe and comfortable place to do their homework. Children with safe homes do better in school and have higher self esteem which leads to greater success in life as an adult.

New Habitat homes are not just shelters for the families but result in significant development for both parents and children. To qualify for a home, the families must invest hundreds of hours of sweat equity by working on their or other homes or by volunteering at the Habitat office or Resale Store. This sweat equity concept helps the family realize the value of a home and that it’s worth all the time and effort that they must invest. By putting many hours of work into their homes, families take a greater pride in ownership.

In addition to personal development opportunities through sweat equity, families are required to take homebuyer classes. Many families have never owned a home before and need assistance in maintenance as well as budgeting and managing their finances. Life skill classes also help parents prepare themselves for more advanced and higher-paying jobs. The children learn study techniques to help them perform better in school.

Habitat homes improve the communities where they are built. With the addition of new homes, existing residents take greater pride in their communities and make an effort to improve the appearance of their own homes.

A new Habitat home is much more than a shelter for a family. The total impact is a stronger family that can make greater contributions to the community and the county. In addition to being a shelter, a Habitat home brings dreams to reality, more family closeness, increased self esteem in parents and children, better jobs and school success, and an improved spirit and attitude among all family members.

A new Habitat homeowner in Horry County recently remarked “Habitat has given a person like me a chance to have stability in my life and that of my children… “

Since starting up in 1991, our local Habitat affiliate has built 94 homes and averages 10-12 new homes each year. Currently, the waiting list for homes includes over 40 Horry County families. Let’s help Habitat with its mission and make a difference in their lives.

Non-Profit: Hope House/Champions of Hope

Submitted by gsSCENE Member: Sara Boling

It was brought to the Grand Strand community’s attention in December of 2008 that there were approximately 200 homeless students at Myrtle Beach High School. Community members were shocked and ready to help out once they read the Myrtle Beach Herald article. (Please see the link below for the MB Herald articles). Locals contacted friends, business colleagues, past MBHS graduates and anyone else they could think of and the word spread like wildfire. The response was overwhelming! Some of the donations included money, “gently used” clothing, gift cards, and much more. Then the ultimate donation arrived, but it was only a temporary gift…temporary housing for these homeless students.

The goal of Hope House and Champions of Hope is to build and sustain a permanent dormitory for the students that are without housing. The MBHS staff has been taking care of these students out of their own pockets for years. The business community now knows about the issue and they are on the way to assist in creating an official organization that will help maintain the cause and raise contributions for Hope House and Champions of Hope. There is currently a lot of “red tape” and legal issues that lawyers are working out to start the official organization, but they are well on the way.

It would be great for gsSCENE to be a contributor to Hope House and Champions of Hope because these students have tons of potential and they just need a little assistance with all the things that we take for granted. We have the potential to make a difference in these kids’ lives by donating money, clothes, time and raising awareness. With our help these students can concentrate on school, their future and teenage life.

MB Herald Articles:

“School administrators help homeless high school students” by Bo Bryan


“MB High School accepts donations for homeless students” by Bo Bryan


Non-Profit: Limos For Learning

Submitted by gsSCENE Member: Kimberly Dahlin

Please consider partnering with Limos For Learning™ as one of your charities for the year. With additional funding, all Horry & Georgetown county schools will have the opportunity to participate in a program with proven results and allow us to expand our program by including areas that may be underserved and/or more rural. Limos For Learning™ currently serves 35 Horry & Georgetown County schools with 9 others on a waiting list. To date, over 40,000 children in South Carolina have participated in the Limos For Learning™ program since it’s inception in 2003. Simply put, it only takes a $10 donation to take one child through an entire 180 day school year in the Limos For Learning™ program. Effectively it takes very little to make a big difference.

As a 501c3 organization, Limos For Learning™ is dedicated to encouraging positive youth development by motivating 3rd, and 4th grade students to take a more proactive approach to their future by setting goals, reaching success one step at a time, and reaping the rewards of their work in the form of a Literacy Reward Day Celebration event. The Limos For Learning™ program also indirectly improves the long term effects of poverty, employment, medical needs, housing, and the need for public assistance program

Your donation will assist us in expanding this program into the 9 additional Horry & Georgetown County schools through general operating support, program materials, and capacity building. In essence, the funding will allow us to offer more young people the opportunity to learn that reading leads to success and that their futures depend on it.

Limos For Learning™ is changing the young faces of our community every day, nourishing the minds, and creating rewarding experiences as a result of one of the most basic human needs, literacy.

In Horry & Georgetown County, over 500 students are participating in the program in 2008/2009. They are motivated, encouraged, recognized and rewarded by teachers for their effort with bookmarks, pencils, folders, and their Celebration Day ride in a shiny stretch limousine, a superstar walk down the red carpet, accolades from their community, lunch at Ryan’s Restaurant, a certificate of accomplishment and a party in their honor. This can often be the first taste of recognition a child receives and we believe it impresses upon them for a lifetime.

South Carolina business woman Elizabeth (Betsy) Ross founded Limos For Learning™ in 2003 after she witnessed firsthand the disease of adult illiteracy among patients not empowered with the basic skills to become informed or proactive in their own healthcare and as a parent volunteer witnessing the frustration caused by extensive school testing. It is through Mrs. Ross’ dedication that Limos For Learning™ was the youngest charity ever awarded the prestigious Angels List status by SC Secretary of State Mark Hammond. “Can Do” and “Yes, We Can”, the program’s motivational literature since 2003, are now the words of a new U.S. President and a nation on the move.

We hope you will support Limos For Learning™ and help us to further our goals to eliminate illiteracy in our own hometown.

Non-Profit: Mercy Hospice & Palliative Care

Submitted by gsSCENE Member: Stephen Chapman

Mercy Hospice and Palliative care is my favorite non-profit organization in the community. They provide an inspirational service to the community in many ways. Not only does Mercy Hospice provide end-of-life care and aid to patients and their families, but also bereavement services and programs for families after the loved one has passed. There are many national organizations in the Grand Strand that provide amazing services, but Mercy Hospice is a true hometown non profit agency that needs your help more than ever.

Mercy Hospice was established in Horry County more than 28 years ago by the Franciscan Sisters of Mary. It is still the largest, oldest, and only non-profit hospice in Horry County. Mercy’s goal is to integrate physical, spiritual, psychological, and social care by offering a range of innovative services that address end-of-life issues and bereavement needs of children and adults.

Caring for a family member that has a life-limiting illness can be a difficult task for the average working class family. Mercy Hospice and Palliative Care provides 24-hour professional nursing care, emotional and spiritual support to the person and families 7 days a week. They never reject a person due to financial issues and always have staff available to provide support to the family.

Many People at this stage of life wish to remain in the comfort of their own homes. Mercy makes this possible by offering their services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the comfort of the individual’s home. Their staff consists of registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, social workers, chaplains, and volunteers that are all experts in end-of-life care.

Rather than being dealt with in a hospital, nursing home, or other facility where treatment is based on standard routine procedure, the person who is in patient care is treated in a much more personal manner. The person benefits because their needs and preferences are respected as an individual person rather than a patient. When the person is in the last phase of his or her life, the comfort and peace of mind they will receive from the caring and compassion of Mercy’s trained caregivers will be the very best. This ensures that the last stage of their life will be natural and dignified.

Mercy Hospice needs community support more than ever. Due to recent legislative decisions Medicaid is no longer available and Medicare, as well as private insurances have slashed benefits for hospice services. They are also one of the few non-profit organizations that have for-profit competitors. Like all non-profit organizations, Mercy relies heavily on donations and volunteer services. Every year Mercy Hospice is in dire need of volunteers for family support, annual fundraising events and camps for children that have lost loved ones. Mercy Hospice would be honored to have gsSCENE sponsor them in their efforts to improve the quality of life among its patients and patient families. The young, energetic volunteer support would be extremely beneficial to their programs.

For more information please visit: www.mercyhospice.org

Non-Profit: Sea Haven, Inc.‘s Transitional Living Program
Project L.I.V.E. – Learning Independence via Education

Submitted by gsSCENE Member: Dawn Trotter

Sea Haven, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation that was originally chartered in 1980 in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Sea Haven’s main purpose is to extend a helping hand to those youth whose lives may be in disarray by providing residential care, seeking and soliciting funds to support services for youth, advocating for youth-oriented services in the community, and focusing community attention on the needs of youth. It is the goal of Sea Haven to keep kids safe, support family unity, and foster active youth participation in community progress.

Transitional Living Programs are designed to assist older homeless youth and prepare them for independent living. The services that TLP’s provide include, but are not limited to safe, stable living accommodations, basic life-skill building, including, money management, housekeeping, food preparation, parenting skills, as well as interpersonal skills, which help young people interact with other community members, including employers. TLPs also ensure that all participants in their program have access to GED and adult education programs or secondary schooling. TLPs assist participants in job preparation as well as attainment. Case Managers are responsible to make sure that all participants are receiving proper medical care including, substance abuse treatment, mental health care, counseling, and physical health needs. Transitional Living Programs are designed to provide long term care for their participants for up to two years.

Sea Haven’s Transitional Living Program, Project L.I.V.E. collaborates with other youth serving agencies in the Grand Strand area to ensure that all participants’ needs are met. As a team Case Managers, a certified Counselor and Director come together to develop an Individualized Transitional Living Plan. This plan is the outline of the services which Project L.I.V.E. will provide. The team makes sure that all of the participants needs are met and that they are being provided all services that are available to them

It is Project L.I.V.E.‘s hope that with additional assistance from the community we will be able to better serve our clients. With recent publicity of the mass amounts of teens in need of services in the Grand Strand area the program is seeing an increase in referrals from outside sources, including, concerned teachers, community agencies, and individuals. In order for the program to succeed we need not only community awareness but community support. It is my hope that with the help of generous community members we are able to increase our community awareness through purchasing of promotional literature.

Often times these youth are labeled as “trouble makers” and “problem children”. Well I can tell you that this is not the case. These children are often victims of abuse, neglect, and mistreatment and believe it or not life as a “runaway” is better than their life at “home”. These are the children who need the most help and I am glad to be part of a program that provides positive role models, guidance, and assistance to these youth who are in desperate need of support. I thank you for taking time to consider Project L.I.V.E. as a candidate for gsSCENE’s community service.

Non-Profit: United Way of Horry County

Submitted by gsSCENE Member: Julie Kopnicky

United Way of Horry County: Mobilizing Our Community to Improve People’s Lives

United Way of Horry County has been successfully impacting our local communities for more than 35 years. An organization focused on bottom-line results, we understand that we’re judged by the lives we change and the communities we shape.

Our 38 United Way Community Partners provide assistance to more than 170,000 people each year. So, when you lend a hand to United Way of Horry County, you help us further mobilize the caring power of our community to improve lives.

The goal of our United Way is to create long-lasting changes by addressing the underlying causes of problems. Our vision for Horry County in the next five years is to help:

Ensure Successful Youth and Children

Develop Strong, Safe and Healthy Families

Promote Self Sufficiency

Provide a Basic Needs Safety Net

Advancing the common good is less about helping one person at a time and more about changing systems to help all of us. We are all connected and interdependent. We all win when a child succeeds in school, when families are financially stable, when people are healthy.

Living united means being a part of the change. It takes everyone in the community working together to create a brighter future. Which is why we encourage everyone in the community to join the cause. Whether you Give, Advocate or Volunteer, you can be part of the change.

A little more about our organization

No two communities are alike, and therefore, no United Way organizations are either. Each United Way is independent, led by volunteers from our local communities who have an intimate understanding of Horry County, their neighbors and what concerns they may face. The money raised here, stays in Horry County to help our own citizens who need it most.

A local Volunteer Board of Directors and Executive Committee, which are elected each year, efficiently and effectively govern our United Way. A volunteer board determines the most pressing needs and funds the programs that show accountability and results.

The Allocations process is the strongest attribute of the United Way system. Before any organization is approved to receive financial assistance, it has to meet rigid requirements established by the Allocations Committee and our local United Way Board of Directors.

Each spring, Allocations Panels meet to discuss the applications of each program, its budget and activities. Once the organization is approved by the panels, the Board of Directors must approve the amount United Way of Horry County will provide each organization. All approved Community Partners, which cannot duplicate the services of another, must report quarterly to United Way the clients served to receive their allocated funding amount.

In closing, we remind you that underneath everything we are, underneath everything we do, we are all people. Connected, interdependent, united. And when we reach out a hand to one, we influence the condition of all. That’s what it means to LIVE UNITED. We sincerely hope you’ll join us.