By Maria Saporta
For Monica Kaufman Pearson, United Way is personal.
Pearson, long-time anchor for WSB-TV, was the keynote speaker Tuesday at United Way of Metro Atlanta’s Tocqueville Society at the Vinings Club.
Her relationship with United Way dates back long before 1988 when she became the first African-American and the second woman to chair Atlanta’s United Way board.
“I care so much for United Way that United Way already is in my will,” Pearson said. “United Way is close to my heart.”
In fact, Pearson said she has been a member of United Way’s Tocqueville Society since 1998 — meaning that she has been contributing at least $10,000 a year to the social and human services organization.
Pearson said she has been so supportive of United Way because the organization has helped her countless times throughout her life.
“I’m Hattie’s daughter from Louisville, Ky.,” Pearson said of being raised by a single mom. “My mother never made more than minimum wage.”
But her mother also knew that “education was the key to success,” Pearson said.
Pearson then identified the multiple United Way organizations that were instrumental to her success — the Girl Scouts, the YMCA, the YWCA, Goodwill, and others.
Without United Way, Pearson said she could have grown up being a “dependent person” living off the generosity of others. Instead, she has become an ultra-successful broadcaster who has been on Atlanta television for 37 years.
Pearson also has volunteered for United Way organizations over the years from when she first came to Atlanta and worked at the Butler Street YMCA’s Exodus program (now Cities in Schools).
“I’ve been blessed,” Pearson said. “My daughter was adopted through a United Way agency. You never outgrow your need for United Way.”
After seeing how well United Way has invested in people and how it contributes to society, Pearson said: “United Way literally unites people.”