MVP: Dr. Joe and Kaye Black, co-chairs of the United Way

It’s much more of a joy to share it.’

Dr. Joe and Kaye Black, co-chairs of the United Way‘Our time and talent was never meant to be used selfishly.

Each year, the United Way of the Lowcountry embarks on a fundraising campaign to support its work in Beaufort and Jasper Counties — efforts that support 39 local charities and programs. But support at this level requires a lot of money — this year’s goal is $2.6 million — and the success of the campaign is predicated on the work of talented, dedicated and passionate teams.

To steer the campaign, the United Way has looked to co-chairs Kaye and Dr. Joseph W. Black, a dynamic duo of tireless energy, dedication, compassion and knowledge. The couple’s Lowcountry roots were set in 1978, when Kaye opened Curry Printing, the company where she remains president and owner. Joe is a pathologist who is retired from his post at Hilton Head Regional Hospital, but who remains active in the local medical community. Given the schedules of a small business owner and physician, it would be understandable if the Blacks wanted to take some time off and get a little rest, but they see things differently.

“Our time and talent was never meant to be used selfishly; it’s much more of a joy to share it,” Kaye explains. “Those of us who have good health care, nutritious food, safe shelter, education, and even a modest income have so much more than many of our neighbors in the Lowcountry. United Way has always focused on meeting the basic needs of people in a community, so it seemed like a logical place to start.”

But the United Way isn’t the only place the Blacks are involved. Joe works part time at Volunteers in Medicine, where he is also a board member. They are both members and volunteers at First Presbyterian Church of Hilton Head, where Kaye serves in the Christian Education Ministry and Dr. Black is the Missions Ministry chair. Dr. Black has served in the Hilton Head Rotary Club for more than 30 years, 25 of which on the Scholarship Committee. And they’re involved with the Hilton Head Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Hilton Head, the Boys & Girls Club and Children’s Services.

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The couple has been involved with United Way since the mid-1990s. Kaye says their commitment to organization is fostered by two key things. “All of the money contributed here stays here — it’s invested in helping people in our community, and all charities supported by United Way meet strict requirements for accountability and results. Local volunteers oversee this.”

To understand the impact of United Ways, work, she continues, “All you need to do to is to visit some of the agencies and see how the dollars invested right here at home are making a difference. We have hundreds of stories — from the expressed joy of an adult on learning to read through Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry to a grateful young woman who says, ‘You saved my life and the lives of my children.’

” [She was helped by Citizens Opposed to Domestic Abuse.]

Joe offers that the reach of the United Ways work is staggering. “I was surprised to learn that United Way agencies assist roughly one out of every three people every year in our two counties. That is an astonishing statistical fact.”

Still, despite this immense involvement in the Lowcountry, Kaye said the need for the United Way is growing.

“Charitable agencies are seeing a 40 percent increase in requests for services, yet only 10 percent of the people in our area give to United Way. I can’t tell you how that compares statistically with other years, or with other regions of the country, but I can tell you that it makes me sad. Not everyone can give generously to United Way every year, but any person who has one dollar of disposable income gets no pass in my book. The Lowcountry is a special place, alive with natural beauty and interesting people. We have an opportunity to be a more gracious community and to truly demonstrate love for our neighbors.”

United Way of the LowcountryThrough their work, Kaye and Joe say they hope to inspire other area residents to become involved in the work of the United Way.

“What we hope is that we are showing others how rewarding it can be to share the United Way story, and to encourage everyone around us to be generous, not only with time and talent, but also with their money. If everyone invested even a few dollars, more of our neighbors in the Lowcountry could be given not a hand-out, but a hand-up. People just need an opportunity to get back on their feet when they have lost a job or a home or have had their family life shattered. Children don’t deserve to ever go to bed hungry.”