A spring in the desert

Hampton Point Apartments brings resources to its community

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

In Southwest Florida, the dry season runs from October through May, with the soil desperate for hydration by the time the rainy season returns. In life, we have all experienced dry seasons, whether financially, spiritually, in relationships or in general. We have all felt that dry feeling, where we are desperate for even a little relief.

We dove abruptly into a dry season both literally and metaphorically this past October. Following Hurricane Ian in September 2022, many Charlotte County families encountered a season of dryness, as finances were stretched thin by lost income, home repairs and other unexpected expenses from the storm. This financial upheaval had many searching for a spring in the desert, but unsure where to turn for resources.

The word resource comes from the French ‘resourse’ which means, “a source, a spring”.

On Jan. 25, Hampton Point Apartments brought the spring to their residents in the form of a Family Resource Day. This event brought together a food truck, music and several local agencies who connected residents to just what they needed. “We always focus on helping our residents,” said Gabby Blankenship, Property Manager. “We have an open-door policy here.” This event helped to open new doors.

Over 150 Hampton Point residents showed up to engage with their community, enjoy a meal together and learn more about available programs and assistance from Charlotte County organizations.

Participating agencies included Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, Charlotte Local Education Foundation, Charlotte Technical College, St. Vincent de Paul Sacred Heart, CareerSource Southwest Florida, Early Learning Coalition of Florida’s Heartland, FutureMakers and United Way of Charlotte County (UWCC).

In addition to food and fellowship, residents had the opportunity to learn about resources to help them through this desert of a dry season that followed Hurricane Ian. UWCC’s Stephanie Lucy was in attendance, sharing about financial assistance available through Season of Sharing and United at Work as well as our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA), which is currently accepting requests for free tax preparation appointments.

“It was a really nice event,” said Stephanie. She shared with me that individuals who needed help headed straight to the resource tables to drink up the information on going back to school, childcare and income tax assistance.

It was an evening that demonstrated the exponential impact we can have when the community mobilizes for a shared purpose. Community-based collaboration is the foundation of a healthier, stronger community, and I applaud Hampton Point Apartments for pulling such a cohesive event together for the benefit of their residents.  

With such a large turnout, the evening flew by quickly for all who were involved. And the spring of resources were decidedly worth the time and effort that was put into the event. Gabby Blankenship stated, “They [the residents] all loved it; they were so thankful.”

Our community is still hurting, still rebuilding following Hurricane Ian. There are still many individuals and families who are stuck in a dry season, seeking a spring in the desert. Financial assistance is still available through United at Work, for anyone impacted by the hurricane who is employed by a Charlotte County business. More information can be found online at unitedwayccfl.org/unitedatwork.  

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.