The gift of time

Caregivers served during We Show Up Week

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

A one-year anniversary is cause for reflection, commemoration, celebration and, of course, gifts. The modern recommended gift for a first anniversary is a clock. This gift of time is intended to represent eternal love between the couple.

Earlier this month, HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital celebrated its one-year anniversary under the HCA Florida Healthcare umbrella by participating in “We Show Up” Week. Alexandria Benjamin, Communications & Community Engagement Director, reached out to me ahead of time for help in connecting with a volunteer project or two. “United Way is always our go-to,” Alexandria told me, to have the pulse on, “what organizations are most in need of help.”

Connections were made, projects were coordinated and change happened.

During “We Show Up” Week in Charlotte County, 25 volunteers partnered with 4 community organizations. The YMCA of Southwest Florida received a makeover to their Cooper Street campus. This beautification included pressure washing, cleaning out flower beds, tree trimming and mulching. Alexandria expressed gratitude for those in charge of setting this project up for success. “It took a lot of coordination,” she said. “We just showed up and executed.”

Their team also spent time with the kids at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Charlotte County. A HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital nurse presented a lesson on hand hygiene and meals were served to the children. Other projects rounded out the week for the volunteers, many of whom expressed how fulfilling the experience was.

Alexandria explained to me that they refer to their staff as “caregivers”. And if working in a hospital setting didn’t already warrant the title, these folks definitely earned it with the care they showed our community during “We Show Up” Week. They showed up; they cared; they gave.

“The Cooper Street Rec. staff is extremely thankful for the work of the volunteers,” said Allison Buzick, Executive Director, Punta Gorda YMCA. “We are excited for our first year of summer camp in the facility and the excitement grows with each little improvement.”
The transformation of the Cooper Street campus is a sight to see, for sure. However, for me, the biggest benefit that came from this week of giving was the response received from the hospital team. They didn’t finish their assigned task, take their gardening gloves off and breathe a sigh of relief that their work was done. They began asking for ways to give back in the near future, perhaps on a regular basis.

Time will tell how this one week will turn into future impacts for Charlotte County. And that is the gift, isn’t it? Time.

Alexandria shared with me how big a difference the YMCA spruce-up project made for that campus. She said, “Something as simple as mulching goes a long way.” And she added, “The gift of time goes a really long way.”

The gift of time is the most precious gift, because once you have given it, you cannot get it back. If the heart of HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital inspired you, and you would like to give the gift of time to a Charlotte County project, visit to get connected to a variety of opportunities that fit your interests, skillset and time available.

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