Voices for Charlotte County
by Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director - United Way of Charlotte County
When I joined the United Way of Florida (UWoF) board earlier this year, I looked forward to being a proud voice for Charlotte County citizens and engaging with fellow leaders throughout the state. Time invested in making the needs of our community known and learning new ways to make an impact is never wasted. At last week’s meeting for the board and local United Way CEO’s (LUW), it was evident we are bonded by sincere dedication.
We gathered in Tallahassee, not only to learn best practices and innovative ways to approach our mission, but also to hear, as part of Capitol Days, the UWoF release the legislative agenda for this next year. It’s always exciting for me to visit Tallahassee as there is longevity, family history and strong leadership ties in the area. My grandfather was Walter T. “Judge” Moore and my dad, Walter Taylor Moore, III was a significant leader in Tallahassee, but I’ll save those stories for another time.
Another highlight was hearing from senators, representatives, Career Source of Florida, Department of Commerce and many others who shared about the items related to UWoF agenda.
Listening to a representative from Florida Blue, it was validating to learn businesses small and large are learning how to ensure employees have what they need to be successful long term. We learn by listening to employee concerns, the representative said. Truly, the United Way of Florida has done an amazing job of recruiting board members from the business sector who can speak to the needs of our citizens.
In a reception for leaders, I was awestruck by the volunteers representing each community, many of whom work in business and are affiliated with the Women United group at their (LUW). As I asked them why they were there, answers ranged from a desire to impact single mothers financially struggling to speaking items noted on the legislative agenda. I was quick to message with other Women United members from Charlotte County that I intend to bring them next year.
Speaking with legislators, I was able to share what we care most about in Charlotte County. In asking them why they ran for office, each spoke to wanting to make a difference. Other Agenda items included citizen access to broadband services, review of resources from the Federal Reserve Bank of Florida – Career Ladder Identifier and Financial Forecaster --- for families to move from surviving to thriving, as well as the nursing shortage, telehealth options, and proper use of emergency rooms.
Personally, I considered the best part of the day to be hearing Representative Tommy Gregory speak of his service in the military as a JAG attorney in London. One of his roles was to manage the VITA (free tax assistance) program. His experience with VITA and his belief in how it serves our citizens led him to champion a VITA appropriations bill which was passed this past year. Because of this, the LUWs running VITA will all be provided additional dollars to enhance our program this next year.
We are so incredibly grateful for Representative Gregory’s support, where the outcome was a true testament to the power of advocacy. The UWoF has been championing this for years and through the voices of our network and the passion of those who listen and care, change is being made.
We encourage you to reach out to Representative Gregory to thank him. In showing appreciation, our state legislators are assured their hard work and support for United Way’s mission and programs such as VITA do not go unnoticed.
To learn more about the 2024 Consensus Legislative agenda or email Representative Gregory, visit https://www.unitedwayccfl.org/CapitolDays
For more information about United Way of Charlotte County’s mission: Mobilizing the power of our community to break the cycle of poverty, please contact Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.