By Matthew Purkey
President & CEO
United Way of Northeast Georgia
You don’t have to be in Athens long before you realize that innovation runs deep in our culture; unfortunately, so does the need for health and human services.
That is why United Way of Northeast Georgia is transitioning from an agency funder to a community problem solver.
There is no doubt that “business as usual” is no longer acceptable. During this process we have recently partnered with two amazing businesses headquartered right here in Athens.
It is indisputable that poverty, homelessness and hunger are inescapable in our beloved city. Approaching these overwhelming needs with innovative techniques led both Creature Comforts brewery and Golden Pantry to change the way they invest in their community.
Chris Herron, co-founder and CEO of Creature Comforts, quickly inserted “community” as a key brand pillar upon his arrival in 2014.
“We realized that when the hungry, the homeless, and the poverty stricken are taken care of, the entire community benefits,” he said.
Creature Comforts, along with several other partners including Your Pie, Sons of Sawdust, and 1000 Faces coffee, created the Get Comfortable campaign to assist local nonprofits. In its first three years, the Get Comfortable campaign has grown exponentially.
This year’s goal is to raise $100,000 to distribute to nonprofits located here in Athens.
Golden Pantry's newly appointed president, Robert Griffith, has also recognized the need to empower those that are already doing great work.
Golden Pantry has donated more than $50,000 this year to United Way’s 2-1-1 information and referral hotline.
“We have the honor and pleasure of serving a large portion of northeast Georgia through our 40 locations,” Griffith said. “We have seen that there are significant needs in our communities and partnering with 2-1-1 is proving to be the most strategic investment for where we live, work, and raise our families.”
A common thread between Creature Comforts and Golden Pantry is using their business as a platform for bettering the community in which they exist. They have chosen to strategically invest their funds toward causes their teams are most passionate about and services which address our community’s most pressing needs.
By doing so, it is safe to say that they have created customer loyalty and a positive brand association. As both an Athenian and a diligent worker in the nonprofit sector, I am proud to be associated with these amazing, innovative business community partners.
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