Community Builder: Mungos surprise United Way’s Mac Bennett for 35+ years of service

(Source: WIS)
(Source: WIS)

(WIS) - Less than a week ago, Mungo brothers Steven and Stewart Mungo were honored as the United Way of the Midlands Humanitarian of the Year.

The told the crowd they were humbled to accept the honor, and they also used the night as an opportunity to flip the script and surprise United Way's CEO Mac Bennett.

"Tonight we recognize someone who has faithfully served our community for the last 35 years," said Matt Mungo from the stage.

United Way CEO Mac Bennett thought the surprise award was being given to his longtime friend and BB&T President Mike Brenan.

"I'm telling my wife, 'Watch Brenan's expression,'" said Bennett. "Then the table turned."

Brenan was actually in on the surprise for Bennett all along.

"It was kind of fun to see the expression on his face," said Brenan, who also serves on the Board of Directors for the United Way.

They are fitting words for two friends who have both served the community for years. Brenan says his buddy Mac is the definition of a difference maker.

"I think if you look up in the dictionary tireless, selfless, devoted 'Community Builder,' there's a picture of Mac Bennett," said Brenan.

Bennett has served the Columbia area in mainly three roles for 37 years, all largely in the nonprofit sector.

He was founding director of SCANPO, the South Carolina Association of Nonprofit Organizations, the Executive Director of the Central Carolina Community Foundation for 14 years, and most recently he's spent the last 12 years at the head of United Way.

"Since he's been at United Way it's just been tremendous," said Anita Floyd, the Senior Vice President for Community Impact and Strategic Implementation. "It's hard to imagine working with someone who had more ambition for community improvement."

Bennett's time at United Way is impossible to summarize, but under his leadership, the United Way's dental and eye clinics in Richland-Lexington counties have flourished, Transitions Homeless Center in Columbia found life in 2008 and the United Way has led the charge in flood recovery efforts since 2015's thousand years-flood.

"It's not just the outcomes Mac has created for the community, but I think the process is just as important," said Floyd. "He is trusted."

Bennett will retire from United Way of the Midlands in June, but his love for giving back is not going anywhere.

"I can't play golf four days a week," laughed Bennett. "I need to be involved in something."

But whatever that is, it's clear his shoes will be hard to fill.

"I think for someone to represent that kind of integrity and collaboration is a legacy in itself it's a way of doing business and community that I think it's really important," said Floyd.

"It's the hope that we can find another Mac Bennett because it's going to require a Mac Bennett to continue to carry-on the great work of the United Way," said Brenan.

In addition to his service-based career, Bennett is involved on several boards and committees and is active at church. He and his wife Leslie have two adult children who are now actively involved where they live, as well.

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