But wait, there’s more

UWCC expands staff, services to meet increased needs

by Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director – United Way of Charlotte County

United Way of Charlotte County (UWCC) has built a positive reputation in our community for providing oversight and accountability to local health and human service organizations, providing financial assistance and tax services and keeping a finger on the pulse of the overall needs of the ALICE population (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). When we were hit with a pandemic, we adjusted our sails to this new wind and led the county’s Youth & Education Task Force. We mobilized the community for a massive collection of face masks to protect our students. And we supported families with rent, mortgage and utility assistance.

The needs have only continued to grow since that time, as job loss and COVID-related health issues exacerbated already struggling families’ ability to make ends meet. While many families were just starting to stand tall again, Hurricane Ian came through and knocked so many back off their feet.

UWCC was there again, stepping in to fill unmet needs.

As the needs have grown, so has our agency. Our Season of Sharing caseload has increased as more applications for rent, mortgage and utility assistance have been submitted. We have added a new avenue to support ALICE through United at Work. UWCC was entrusted with funds from several large donors and many smaller donors who wanted to support Charlotte County’s workforce following the hurricane. This involved bringing on a full-time case manager and it increased our marketing and reporting duties.

More recently, we have seen a tremendous increase in the number of folks who are seeking volunteer opportunities in our community. As we have the capacity, we are diligently working toward making connections with individuals and organizations. I was thrilled to assist HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital’s caregivers who were seeking a community project, a group of ladies who wanted to support early childhood literacy programming and others who wanted to make a difference for those who lost everything in the hurricane. In the coming months, UWCC aims to expand on making volunteer connection as funds become available to allow us to increase our agency’s capacity.

As the needs grow in Charlotte County, UWCC intends to grow as well. In the past campaign year, we have added new staff to process incoming calls and applications for assistance. Our finance department is working tirelessly to get funds out the door quickly for those in need. Our grants department added a round of grant applications to support hurricane recovery for our partner agencies. (I cannot wait to share more about how those funds are being used!)
Much of our fundraising plans for the past fiscal year were stunted as our entire team worked on hurricane recovery for the past several months. While we have doubled the funds that we have under management at UWCC since the previous year, our operating costs to manage these funds have increased as well.

Our team is grateful for our faithful donors who support our work year in and year out. We are grateful for our new donors who allow us to keep the lights on, so to speak, as we pushed disaster funds out the door as quickly as possible in recent months. Without those donors, our processes would not be able to keep up with the demand for help.

We are proud of the work we have accomplished in partnership with the community, local government and other nonprofits. UWCC fully intends to continue to deliver value to Charlotte County over the next year by monitoring emerging trends in the needs of our community and through shared ownership of these needs through mobilization.

As we wrap up our campaign year March 31, we invite you to partner with us in giving back to Charlotte County. As there are more needs, your support helps us to quickly and efficiently meets those needs. Donations to our general operating fund can be made online at unitedwayccfl.org or by mailing a check to United Way of Charlotte County, 17831 Murdock Cir, Suite A, Port Charlotte, FL, 33948.

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.