Published in the Tidewater News Wednesday, January 21, 2015
A Southampton County woman is looking to make a difference in the next chapter of her career.
Trish Edwards has succeeded Anne Bryant as Franklin-Southampton County’s United Way executive director. Bryant said she was excited to have Edwards named to follow her.
“I know I’m leaving the United Way in good hands,” she said. “She already knows fundraising and she knows the community, so she’s just a really good fit for the job.”
Edwards will step into the part-time position while also helping wrap up some work at her previous position at Paul D. Camp Community College. For the last two-and-a-half years, she’s worked there as a development associate, helping build the annual fund for the college.
“I loved my job at the college, particularly when dispersing scholarships to students,” Edwards said. “But I am excited for this opportunity.”
PDCCC’s Vice President of Institutional Development Felicia Blow said Edwards was a tremendous asset for the college’s development office.
“Trish helped us build our scholarship program, allowing us to nearly double the number of scholarships — endowed and unendowed — for the college,” Blow said. “She was a tremendous events planner as well, and through her deliberate support, we had top notice programs and activities such as our Annual Golf Tournament and our Major Gifts Campaign close out celebration.”
With United Way, Edwards said one of the things she’s most excited about is playing a part in dispersing the funds she raises to the agencies in need.
“The United Way does a lot of good in the community, and I’m thankful for the opportunity,” she said. “It’s exactly the kind of job I wanted, to be involved with a non profit on both ends of the spectrum, fundraising and in rewarding.
“You get to see firsthand the difference that the fundraising makes.”
Edwards started on Jan. 5, and her first day flying solo was Monday.
“Obviously, I’ve got very big shoes to fill,” she said. “Anne did a very good job. But it has also been wonderful having her train me, she’s been very organized.”
Though Edwards was born here, she finished school in Suffolk and went to Old Dominion for her college education. In 1994 after completing college, Edwards moved back to the Southampton County area and decided to stay once she had a family.
Since then, through her children, Edwards has become involved with the Hunterdale Boy Scouts, Pack 27, as her sons are members, and she also serves on the Riverdale Elementary PTA.
“I thought it was a good place and environment to raise my family, and I’m close to my family,” she said. “It’s a very close-knit community.”
It’s also amazing how things end up coming full circle in life, Edwards said. Her relationship with Bryant goes back 15 years due to the Franklin Woman’s Club. Also, when she was involved with the Jr. Woman’s Club, they focused on literacy, which was one of United Way’s pushes under Bryant. Edwards said she’d be happy to continue that.
It didn’t stop there, though, as the club also was able to help Franklin Cooperative Ministries get its building near the post office, which is now the clothing closest.
Edwards also said that when her then-husband was laid off from International Paper, that she had to go to Franklin Cooperative Ministries for help in getting back on her feet.
“Everyone can be in the situation where they need help,” she said.
And at the college or volunteering with the Ruth Camp Campbell Memorial Library, Edwards has been in connection with many of the agencies that she’ll be working with.
“She’s known people in this community for years,” Bryant said. “And that will be very helpful. It’ll be easy for them to ask her for help.”
“I am excited to meet those that I do not know over the coming weeks,” Edwards added. “United Way has a great list of organizations that covers the gamut of children to seniors.”
Over the coming weeks, the non-profit will be wrapping up its fundraising campaign, and then in the fall, Edwards will be starting her own.
“I’m looking forward to that,” she said. “I also would like to add a day of service for volunteers, as well as continue the other programs that Anne has started in addition to the fundraising. I also look to have a social media push, on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.”
Beyond that, she’s looking forward to coming in with a brand new UW board, including president Holly Ledbetter. And not long from now, the applications will be coming in for funding.
“We will be reviewing those pretty soon,” Edwards said. “And the cycle continues.”