New United Way Director Ready for Challenge
Apr 06, 2018 03:21PM
● By Makayla Gay
By Annamarie Koehler-Shepley
Photography by Amy Randall Photography
Meghan Barp has long harbored a love for community service. The Nebraska native brought that passion and energy south as the new president and CEO of United Way of Greenville County.
Following a nine-month search, a 10-person committee selected Barp from 972 applicants. She officially took over for former president Ted Hendry, who held the title for 17 years, on Feb. 26.
Barp, who served as the senior vice president of Community Impact for Greater Twin Cities United Way of Minneapolis/St. Paul for the last four years, says that she is excited to get to work.
“Right now, I am focused on getting to know the community,” Barp said. “I’m focused on getting to know our business leaders who are passionate about this work, the incredible nonprofits we invest in, and other individuals and leaders in our community who have made this such a fantastic place to live.”
Barp grew up in a small town in Nebraska and she credits her childhood spent stocking the local food shelf with her parents for inspiring her passion for community service.
“My parents instilled in me from a very young age that it is important to make sure that everybody has the best opportunities possible in their community and that we all have an active role in giving back,” she said.
Over the next few years, Barp’s goal is to bring people and resources together to invest in the best strategies for Greenville County and its future. According to its 2016 financial reports, the United Way of Greenville County is a $22.6 million organization and, according to 2017 reports, the organization was able to help more than 135,000 people in the Greenville community.
“There is so much great work already happening here in Greenville County that my hope is to amplify that and accelerate it,” Barp said. “We’re up over last year’s campaign, and the fact that we’ve raised close to $17 million this year for this community is tremendous. We’re able to leverage those investments to secure additional grants and resources to maximize the value of every dollar contributed to generate $2.37 million in impact.”
Along with volunteerism, advocacy, and giving, United Way of Greenville County is working on engaging with the small business community as well.
“One of the best parts of Greenville County is the entrepreneurial spirit that we have and that so many small businesses want to have a social impact,” Barp said.
Barp said that she was drawn to Greenville almost immediately: its United Way is one of the best in the country, the business community is thriving, and when she met the team at United Way of Greenville County, she was sold.
“The amazing things that everyone talks about with Greenville County drew me and my husband here; the fact that there’s still real need and real issues related to poverty also drew us here,” she said. “About 65,000 families [170,000 people] are living in poverty or teetering right on the edge,” she said, and, according to the organization’s 2017 statistics, one in three people can’t meet basic financial needs while one in six are facing hunger. “So as we think about what folks are facing day to day despite all of those great successes of the community, many are still struggling to see it. We know that we have to do more to make sure that everyone can experience how incredible this community is.”
To Barp, shedding a light on the existing need is top priority.
“Greenville has a lot going for it. We know that we continue to drive national attention as a popular destination for visitors and a magnet for new development. That being said, we still have two Greenvilles,” she said. “I think we have a real opportunity to amplify that there’s another Greenville that often goes unseen and that thousands of families live it every day.”
Barp thinks that the Greenville community is up to the challenge, though.
“If any community can do it, I believe that this community can make huge strides to ensure that everyone experiences Greenville County to be the best place that it can be.”
And despite having just a few weeks on the job under her belt, Barp says this already feels like home.
“From the moment I landed at the Greenville-Spartanburg airport, I just knew there was something special here. This community is so fantastic and offers everything that we were looking for in a community,” Barp said. “It already feels like home.”