A strong community is one where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential.  


Building a strong community is like building a sturdy house.  It requires many people working together.


Just like you would bring contractors, carpenters, and other specialists together to build a house, United Way of Sumter, Clarendon and Lee Counties brings organizations and individuals together to address the health, education, and financial stability needs of our community.

Our Mission

United Way of Sumter, Clarendon and Lee Counties mobilizes resources and leaders that strengthen our communities.  We fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in our community.


We believe that together, we can

positively impact our communities.

Our Values

  • Integrity - Leading with moral fortitude

  • Compassion - Genuine concern for people's human condition

  • Transparency - Sharing and receiving information openly and honestly

  • Accountability - Sound financial management, mission-driven decision-making and servant leadership

  • Collaboration - Forging strategic partnerships to produce mutually beneficial outcomes

  • Excellence - Providing outstanding service across the entire organization

  • Inclusion - Organization culture where diversity is valued and everyone is genuinely considered


Our Board

Your United Way of Sumter, Clarendon & Lee Counties is locally governed by an independent volunteer Board of Directors, dedicated to creating lasting change in our region. These volunteers live in Sumter, Clarendon and Lee Counties, and serve together as your United Way's primary decision-makers.

  • Jay Montgomery, Safe Federal Credit Union  (Chairman)

  • Howie J. Owens, City of Sumter  (Treasurer)

  • Ginny Dority, Caterpillar Inc. (Allocations Chair)

  • Celestine Huggins, Eaton Corporation

  • Erricka Jones, Coldwell Banker Commercial Cornerstone

  • Chris McKinney, Santee Lynches Regional Council of Governments

  • Dr. Vanessa Smith-Canty, Sumter School District

  • Danielle Thompson, Hamptons

  • Sandy Vining, BD

  • Ron Whetsel, EnerSys

  • Chuck Wilson, Universal Benefits Inc.


Our Team


Mindy Popovich



773-7935 ext. 107


Kari Cruse

Chief Operating Officer 


773-7935 ext. 108


Pamela R. Buddin, M.Ed.

AmeriCorps Program Director


773-7935 ext. 102


Melanie Dees

Diamonds Youth Development Director


773-7935 ext. 113

Bettie Anderson

Office Assistant


773-7935 ext. 101


Frequently asked questions

Why should I support the United Way?

Simply put, giving to United Way is the right thing to do for the long-term health of our community. Your contributions ensure that people have an opportunity to break the cycles of poverty, violence, and hopelessness and replace them with self-sufficiency, security, and hope. All donations to United Way of Sumter, Clarendon and Lee Counties support local programs to make our community a better and safer place to live, work, and play.

Where does the money go?

Unless you specify differently, your contribution stays right here in Sumter, Clarendon and Lee Counties to help those with basic needs (food, shelter, utility assistance), as well as assistance for victims of home fires, sexual assault or domestic abuse, and tutoring for young children.

Who decides how much money each program partner receives?

Based on current community needs and issues our Volunteers decide which agencies are funded by United Way. If you would like to participate as an Allocations Volunteer, please contact us at 803-773-7935. Our Allocations panel is made up of individuals, workplace donors and leaders from the community. This panel is careful to review each application and give recommendations to our Board of Directors who carefully weigh which programs should be funded with United Way donations.

How can I help make a difference?

In addition to charitable donations, your local United Way can help you find other ways to take action. We're here 365 days a year and invite you to Give, Advocate and Volunteer to help us fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community.

How is United Way changing lives?

Our work is personal enough to change individual lives and powerful enough to improve conditions across our community. United Way donors are able to address multiple social issues with one easy contribution. At the same time, United Way partner agencies are better equipped to advance their mission and help more people in more-meaningful ways.
We are committed to drive lasting, positive change in priority issues within the areas of Basic Needs, Education, Income and Health. These are the building blocks for a good life and the cornerstones of a strong community. When you contribute to United Way of Sumter, Clarendon and Lee Counties, you make one of the most powerful philanthropic investments possible ... one that is magnified and multiplied, letting you create deeper and more-lasting impact than you could accomplish by making a single donation to a specific cause.