BLOG: Remembering Juanita Jordan and her impact on our community

All of us at United Way were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Juanita T. Jordan earlier this week. Juanita devoted herself to making Macon and Central Georgia a better, stronger community, and was she ever successful!  Without question our United Way is a healthier organization because of her. Two years ago, we honored Juanita at our annual meeting in two ways.  We presented her with our Jack Steed Lifetime Achievement Award, and as a surprise, we named our inaugural Community Impact Award in her honor.  This annual award honors a business, nonprofit, or individual who is making a significant impact in Central Georgia in support of the United Way of Central Georgia mission, while also inspiring others to become involved.  Or in the words of Peyton Anderson, being a “good doer”, and there have been few “good doers” in our community on par with Juanita.
This is our 98th year as an organization.  To put this in some perspective, the average lifespan of a company listed in the S&P 500 index of leading US companies in 1922 was 67 years, but today is just 15 years.  The average lifespan of any business today is less than 10 years.  While this longevity is special, it obviously has taken the support of many people across many decades---and few if any have been as instrumental to our success as Juanita Jordan.  
During Juanita’s 23 years of starting, and then leading, The Peyton Anderson Foundation they have provided United Way with numerous grants in support of our work. I want to share two that had a major impact to our community. 
Shortly after starting the foundation, Juanita contacted Ron Watson, United Way CEO at that time, to learn more about UW’s fund distribution system so she could use it a model for the foundation’s system. During the meeting she asked Ron if United Way had any “dreams”, and Ron told her of his vision for a center for non-profits similar to what the Woodruff Foundation funded for the United Way of Greater Atlanta.  Long-story short, she and Ron took the idea to the PAF board who approved a $2.8 Million grant, and the Peyton Anderson Community Services Center became a reality in 1993.  For the last 25 years the PACSC has served as the offices of United Way, as well as for almost a dozen other nonprofits, and its conference rooms host over 3,300 hours of non-profit meetings each year.  And for those of you who have used the largest of those conference facilities, now you know why it is named the Juanita Jordan Room. 
The 2nd major grant from the foundation was used to start our 211 information and referral service in 2010.  Atlanta was the first United Way in the country to start this service, which is still going strong today.  Thanks to Juanita and the Peyton Anderson Foundation, we were the 2nd UW in Georgia and one of the earlier United Ways in the country to offer this valuable service.  211 continues to help tens of thousands of Central Georgians each year to connect to local services and programs.  
While we join so many others in mourning her passing, the many individuals and organizations she supported and inspired will continue her legacy for decades to come. We are honored to be one of those organizations.
George McCanless
President & CEO
United Way of Central Georgia