Singing the Praises of Local Philanthropists.

What this place needs is… Third graders who can read. More caps and gowns. Healthier families.

United Way of San Diego County works with individuals, families and public and private organizations to answer the question: “What does this place need?” Together, we are able to spark breakthrough community action that elevates every child and family toward a brighter future.

“What This Place Needs” was also the theme of United Way’s Annual Live United Community Celebration & Kickoff at UC San Diego. The kickoff was an opportunity for United Way to give a resounding “THANK YOU!” to community leaders as well as corporate and individual supporters for their ongoing commitment to volunteerism, accomplishments and United Way workforce campaigns.

The man receiving the evening’s highest honor is synonymous with San Diego philanthropy – Malin Burnham. A native San Diegan and Point Loma resident, Burnham has chaired nine major nonprofits and co-founded 14 organizations. As part of a special tribute, Doug and Marilyn Sawyer presented a personalized limerick titled “Ode to Malin Burnham,” which rhythmically alluded to his many community contributions and astounding humility.

Steven Northcote, a Scripps Ranch resident, was given the “Volunteer of the Year” Naish Award. Northcote is a member of the audit committee for United Way and formerly served as finance chairman and director.

Choir Director Archie Robinson and New Birth Praise serenaded award recipients with a gospel rendition of Katy Perry’s “Firework,” recognizing the ways they have sparked positive change in their communities.

Other award winner were: Solar Turbines (President’s Award), GEICO (Best Large Company Campaign), San Diego Airport Authority (Best Mid-Size Campaign), Rick Engineering (Best Small Campaign) and Macy’s (Best Team Spirit).

To learn more about the work United Way does, visit