Greg Shackelford was recognized for his support of the United Way and its efforts in the community with the 2018 Emil Rosenthal Volunteer of the Year Award.

Shackelford, Southern Bank senior vice president and south region executive, was presented with the United Way award during its annual meeting Thursday at First Baptist Church.

The award is presented each year to the person who demonstrates a strong commitment to service, a concern for the welfare of people in the community, the ability to motivate others and leadership.

Shackelford is noted as doing whatever is needed to help the United Way reach its campaign goal.

He began a two-year term as chairman of the campaign in 2018. In the midst of two hurricanes, he had to find a replacement for United Way’s community engagement campaign chairman, who relocated. The vacancy resulted in Shackelford taking on the responsibilities of the position. He also served on the committee to find a new executive director when Steve Parr announced his retirement.

There were also six Spirit of Wayne Awards presented during the annual meeting. The awards recognized the efforts of employers in helping others in the county through their contributions.

The awards were presented to:

• US Cargo Systems, a leader in supporting United Way. The company’s combined corporate and employee donations increased 35 percent in 2018 to $22,000, with a per capita of $107. The company had 10 leadership donors. Its donation amount is estimated as being able to help 440 people in Wayne County.

• Edgewood Community Developmental School. Its donations increased 98 percent to $5,055 with a per capita of $59, which will help 101 people in Wayne County.

• WAGES, which is a key United Way partner in its Family Learning Center project. Employee donations increased 50 percent to $11,280 with a per capita of $63, which will help 226 people.

• Sentry Insurance with a combined corporate and employee donation of $44,000, an increase of 15 percent, which will help 880 people.

• Anchor Coupling, which had a combined corporate and employee donation of $31,838, an increase of 35 percent, which will help 637 people. The company had 42 Care Share donors.

• Jackson and Sons with a combined corporate and employee donation of $25,462, a 43 percent increase, which will help 509 people. It had a per capita of $260.

The speaker for the annual meeting was retired Air Force Lt. Col. Normal R. Seip, chairman of the board for the Council for a Strong America. He said the group’s goal is to posture each and every generation to be citizen-ready when they grow up, from their first breath to successful high school graduation and beyond.

He said that from birth to age 8 is a critical time in a child’s life — and there is no reset button. Seip said everyone learns to read up to third grade and after that, they are reading to learn.

He challenged Wayne County residents to use the resources available from other organizations that are also working in early childhood education to keep a steady drumbeat with elected officials to invest in quality early education and to work toward a quality childhood education that is sustainable.

During the meeting, United Way Vice Chairman Donna Phillips emphasized the organization’s commitment to education, with a strong focus on the influencing factors affecting the development of children from birth to age 10.