Hope Shines Bright: Philanthropy Under the Stars

Honoring Kevin Russell's Luminary Leadership

By Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director 

Here we are less than a month from one of my favorite United Way of Charlotte County (UWCC) annual events, Beaujolais.  It was ten years ago that this event began, in 2014. I recall it well. Just three months prior, I sat interviewing for the development position at UWCC.

kevinKevin Russell was one of two board members who interviewed me and as luck and goodness would have it, I was hired. Thus began an incredible journey, a path lifted up by board members like Kevin. He was also on the interview team when I sought the director position. Over the years, countless times, it was Kevin’s quiet and simple wisdom that held me steady.

One of the early tasks in 2014 was to plan this event, which as a board team led by Kevin, was named Beaujolais. The board was divided into four teams, all with a task to create a fun event. Now, ten years later, the UWCC Beaujolais wine event has been the one team event that has stood the test of time. So much of that success and that of our nonprofit can be attributed to Kevin Russell’s leadership over the years.

The intention of Beaujolais has always been to provide a fun atmosphere to not only enjoy wine and tapas, but for each of us to soak up a moment to get to know one another.

On March 1, 2024, we celebrate our 9th annual Beaujolais at the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens (we skipped a year in 2019 and we still held a drive-thru virtual Beaujolais event in 2020 which was really fun and quite memorable). Beaujolais has indeed grown from a boutique gathering to Charlotte County’s premiere wine tasting event with spectacular wines which always includes a fine Beaujolais. 

This year at Beaujolais, the UWCC board is proud to honor Kevin Russell with special recognition for his service to our community. We are delighted to extend a special invitation for you to join us and personally thank him for all he has accomplished in impact for Charlotte County. Kevin’s years of service to the nonprofit community at large puts him in a league of his own. It is hard to serve as a board member, volunteering time and talent to ensure the work of a nonprofit is done with integrity, focus and success.

Kevin Russell has exemplified this across countless organizations in Charlotte County for over twenty years. If you or your organization were a beneficiary of his tireless work, you will understand how important this moment is. Perhaps you served on a board with him, you also can attest.

This exclusive gathering promises an evening of exquisite wines and delectable cuisine, featuring Chef Jason Osborne and his students from the Charlotte Technical College culinary program, who will be pairing small bites for an exceptional culinary experience. Join us for an unforgettable night of wine and culinary delights under the stars!

My extreme gratitude to all of our event sponsors.  Your support is invaluable to us and enables us to continue providing the best possible services to our community.  Thank you Florida Power & Light, WrightWay Emergency Services, Southwest Engineering & Design, Whitco Insurance Alexia Martin Agency, Charlotte Behavioral Health Care, HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital, First Presbyterian Church and Panther Hollow Dental Lodge.

To learn more information or to purchase tickets, visit unitedwayccfl.org/Beaujolais

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 director@unitedwayccfl.org.