After 38 years with United Way of Horry County, Executive Director steps down

Source: United Way of Horry County
Source: United Way of Horry County

Below is a news release from the United Way of Horry County:

After 38 years with United Way of Horry County, Olivia Garren steps down

Olivia Garren started as the part-time secretary to the United Way of Horry County board back in 1975, two years after the organization was incorporated. After 38 years, she says it's now time to retire.

"I'd like to spend more time with my family. It's also time for United Way to have some new ideas and innovations," Garren said.

In 1980, Garren was named Executive Director, the position she holds today, although United Way of Horry County changed the title to President in 2009.

As you can imagine, she's seen a lot of changes.

"The dynamics of fundraising has changed greatly. Key companies have downsized. Needs have grown tremendously. The county has grown tremendously," Garren said.

Garren is known throughout Horry County for her giving heart and her loving spirit. United Way is not just her job. It's her way of life. There have been times when she knew a family didn't have any food for the weekend and she bought groceries with her own money and delivered the food to them. She knows every donor and volunteer by name, and most of their families. Olivia understands the joys and the struggles our friends and neighbors face and makes them her own.

"Most people wait until they retire to indulge in their passions. Olivia made her passion for helping others her career. She made a lifetime of memories and friends, walking hand-in-hand with the United Way from the beginning. When you hear United Way of Horry County, you immediately think Olivia Garren," Cathe Singleton, United Way of Horry County Board Chairman, said.

"Remember the days of mimeograph machines and electric Royal typewriters? That is how long ago I started working for Olivia at United Way. We're more than a team. We're family," said Ann Graham, Administrative Manager at United Way of Horry County.

During her time with United Way, Garren has earned numerous awards, including the Order of the Silver Crescent in 2007. It's the state's highest honor for volunteer and community service.

After spending more than half of her life with United Way, she's not about to leave in the middle of the campaign. It's the busiest time of year for United Way as volunteers raise money for all of the agencies United Way supports. Garren plans to leave when the campaign has come to a close in the spring.