The Hidden Hero Award is given annually to an individual or organization that has gone above and beyond to help United Way of Horry County. The Hidden Hero recipient is often not recognized by the public for the work that they complete, but they are dedicated to our mission and diligently work to give back to Horry County.
We proudly announce that this year’s Hidden Hero is Celeste Bondurant-Bell.
2022 – Celeste Bondurant-Bell
United Way of Horry County (UWHC) has presented the 2022 Hidden Hero Award posthumously to Celeste Bondurant-Bell. The Hidden Hero Award is given annually to an individual or organization that has gone above and beyond to help UWHC. The Hidden Hero recipient is often not recognized by the public for the work that they complete, but they are dedicated to our mission and diligently work to give back to Horry County.
Celeste is the truest example of a Hidden Hero for Horry County. As the Director of Community Development with Little River Medical Center (LRMC), she did so many things for LRMC and the community. “She liked working with community leaders and working behind the scene to develop the best community programs that provide education, outreach, and marketing to others,” states Pamela Davis, President & CEO of LRMC.
Pamela also added, “She made her mark on the community and was committed to helping others and making a difference in the lives of those that were disenfranchised. She was always ready to brainstorm new and different ideas and get to the heart of the matter. She has left a mark in everyone’s life and will be remembered for all her hard work, valuable input, and insight in developing programs for all the non-profits she worked with. She is missed by all.” Three years ago, Celeste brought ideas to UWHC to reinvigorate the Horry County Alliance, which has since transitioned into the Horry County Community Collaborative, (HC3), which serves over 100 nonprofits and organizations across the county. “She played a huge role as UWHC shifted to the Community Impact Model,” Blakely Roof, President & CEO of UWHC. Roof continued, “Bottom line, she is one of the main reasons that UWHC is where they are today and we want to honor her legacy for the work she has done to ensure everyone has access to thrive.”
2021 – Utocqua Grissett
Utocqua has been involved with United Way of Horry County’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for nearly two decades. She has served as our Horry County VITA Coordinator and the site coordinator for the Conway tax site location. While in high school, she began to help her friends and family file their taxes after seeing the amount they were paying for tax preparations and the financial burden it caused. Utocqua knew that this was something she could help with and has dedicated her time to helping others avoid the same cost burden for nearly twenty years.
United Way of Horry County appreciates Utocqua’s leadership, interest, and expertise in the VITA program in Horry County. She has led the way in making the VITA program what it is in today. Through the challenges of COVID-19, Utocqua has ensured that we have been able to provide tax assistance to Horry County residents throughout the duration.
During the 2021 tax season, United Way of Horry County’s VITA program assisted over 800 people with income tax returns resulting in almost $1.2 million in returns. Learn more about the VITA program here.
2020 – Coastal Carolina University Department of Athletics
CCU Department of Athletics has been involved with UWHC’s educational and volunteer efforts for nearly two decades. Their involvement began when former Coach David Bennett wanted his football players to give back to Horry County. Coach Bennett knew that football was not only going to be something positive for CCU but also for the community. Coach Bennett recruited his players and sent them to kindergarten classrooms in Horry County to read, with the help of UWHC, starting the program Caring for Kindergarteners. For eighteen years, Caring for Kindergarteners has been a program offered by UWHC and CCU, evolving into a program that includes all sports teams at CCU. Each year CCU athletes read a selected book in all the kindergarten classrooms of the 16 schools closest to CCU’s campus. In 2021, Caring for Kindergarteners expanded to include all 26 elementary schools in the county due to the program being offered virtually.
Each year CCU athletes read a selected book in all the kindergarten classrooms of the 16 schools closest to CCU’s campus. In 2021, Caring for Kindergarteners was able to expand to include all 26 elementary schools in the county due to the program being offered virtually.
Since then, and in 2020, the CCU Department of Athletics has gone above and beyond in giving back to the community. In January, the CCU Department of Athletics reached out to UWHC looking for service opportunities for student-athletes participating in the Sun Belt Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Conference held in Conway. When UWHC’s United to Read went virtual in November, CCU provided two student-athletes from the Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams to volunteer to read to all Horry County first graders. In December, the CCU Department of Athletics partnered with UWHC and the football team to adopt students from Loris Elementary for Christmas. The football players wanted to personally purchase gifts for children in need.
2019 – Helen Tindal, Santee Cooper
Helen plays a vital role in the Employee Giving campaign with Santee Cooper, coordinating volunteers for Day of Caring, and is a constant advocate for United Way of Horry County.