The Hidden Hero award is presented to a person or organization that has gone above and beyond with their service and leadership for United Way of Horry County in the past year. This award began in 2019 and the first recipient was Helen Tindal with Santee Cooper.
2021 Hidden Hero – 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, as well as, the site coordinator for the Conway tax site location. While in high school, she began to help her friends and family with filing their taxes after seeing the amount that they were paying for tax preparations and the financial burden that it caused. Utocqua knew that this was something that 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 through 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 dollars 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 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 out 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 was able to expand 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, 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, CCU Department of Athletics partnered with UWHC in conjunction with 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, coordination of volunteers for Day of Caring, and is a constant advocate for United Way of Horry County.