Season of Sharing assisted 580 Charlotte County households
by Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director – United Way of Charlotte County
The Wall Street Journal recently published an article with tips on how to get past living paycheck to paycheck. This potentially valuable information was hidden behind a $52 annual paywall.
This might, in fact, be the definition of irony.
In Charlotte County, 43% of households fell under the ALICE threshold, as of 2021. This includes families living below the Federal Poverty Level as well as those who are just above it, but still struggling to meet their basic needs. That percentage has increased from 39% in 2019.
United Way of Charlotte County (UWCC) serves ALICE, whether it is through providing basic needs or offering programs that help move a family on a path to self-sufficiency. One of our signature programs is Season of Sharing, which provides rent, mortgage and utility assistance to individuals and families who can normally afford their basic needs but hit a bump in the road.
Individuals like Dina are the reason Season of Sharing exists. Dina is single mother who is gainfully employed as a home health care aide. Recently, chest pains landed her in the hospital. It turned out that a mild heart attack was the cause and resulted in a 5-day hospitalization. In addition to lifestyle changes and regular medications, Dina lost 2 weeks of employment as she recovered. Financial assistance from Season of Sharing came through for Dina and her children by covering her rent payment for the month so she could cover her other bills and not allow this crisis to put her behind.
Season of Sharing was created by the Herald-Tribune Media Group and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County in 2000, and the need has only increased since its inception. UWCC serves as the Charlotte County fiscal agent, working with local case managers to review applications for assistance and to administer the funds.
Our team is able to work with area case managers to ensure that a household, like Dina’s, doesn’t get further behind after a small set-back. One-time financial assistance can sometimes mean the difference between a roof over their heads or eviction.
Over our last fiscal year, Season of Sharing invested $779,530 in 580 households in Charlotte County. More than $400,000 of those funds were distributed in the six months following Hurricane Ian. These funds did not address needs that were specific to Hurricane Ian, as our United at Work program covers Ian-related needs. Season of Sharing provided assistance for needs that came from situations such as unexpected medical expenses, issues with transportation or employment changes.
The main reason stated for needing financial assistance from Season of Sharing during the past year was reduced income.
It has been a blessing to be able to administer these funds to households who were struggling, but we know the need continues. Affordable housing, inflation and other economic woes are present in our community now more than ever.
I am grateful to the Community Foundation of Sarasota County for investing $40,000 in UWCC to cover a portion of our administrative costs to continue operating as fiscal agent. But please know that 100% of your donation to Season of Sharing still goes directly to families in need in our community.
Donations to the Season of Sharing fund may be made online (unitedwayccfl.org/season-sharing), or by sending a check payable to the Community Foundation of Sarasota County to:
Season of Sharing
c/o Community Foundation of Sarasota County
2635 Fruitville Road
Sarasota, FL 34237
Contact the Foundation at 941-955-3000 for more information or to request a credit card form. Be sure to let the Foundation know which county you wish to support (i.e., Charlotte County). Donations that are made through the Foundation are used to directly provide financial relief to our ALICE families. Every dollar received is a dollar that will be used to cover a rent, mortgage or utility payment for a struggling family.
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.