Two vehicles driving roadmap to recovery

UWCC supports ALICE through Hurricane Relief and Recovery funds

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

As Hurricane Ian barreled into southwest Florida, it was obvious that the needs of our community were about to increase exponentially. Our team at United Way of Charlotte County (UWCC) had some quick decisions to make.

It was important for us to maintain a laser-sharp focus on our mission:  mobilizing the power of our community to break the cycle of poverty, while also playing to our strengths. Before the devastation was complete, we had set up a fund for Hurricane Ian Recovery. Within three weeks of the storm, we added the United at Work fund, with an incredible $500,000 matching donation from the Elsa & Peter Soderberg Charitable Foundation.

These two vehicles on our roadmap to recovery are still driving impact following the hurricane.

United at Work, an in-house financial assistance program, has invested roughly half a million dollars in over 350 households. These funds provided direct assistance to individuals and families who were impacted by Hurricane Ian.

In alignment with our mission to mobilize, UWCC put out a request for proposal to our partner health and human service agencies who were likewise impacted by the hurricane. The results of this funding opportunity were released this week. During this first round of Hurricane Ian Recovery Funding, UWCC invested just over $250,000 in nine local nonprofit programs.

The funded agencies are Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, Drug Free Charlotte County, Virginia B. Andes Volunteer Community Clinic, YMCA of Southwest Florida, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast, Boys & Girls Clubs of Charlotte County, Charlotte County Homeless Coalition, Charlotte HIV/AIDS People Support (CHAPS), and Early Learning Coalition of Florida’s Heartland.

While United at Work funds are going to individuals with unmet needs, the Hurricane Ian Recovery Funding was used to mobilize our partner agencies to be better able to support the needs of the individuals and families they serve.

Two agencies had facility damage that kept them from serving clients in a safe manner. Goodwill Industries, in particular, sustained significant damage to its Punta Gorda retail store. Covering a portion of the repair needs not only helped get Goodwill Industries’ staff back to work, but it also supported getting their employment assistance programs back in operation.

Virginia B. Andes Volunteer Community Clinic also requested funding to cover replacement of the existing worn and damaged vinyl flooring with health grade tile. This improvement will ensure the Clinic’s ability to withstand future water intrusions, whether that be from hurricanes or other circumstances.  

Drug Free Charlotte County and YMCA of Southwest Florida will be rolling out mental health messaging and training in the community. The goal is to build resilience and promote mental health resources to residents who experienced trauma from Ian.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast and CHAPS will be offering their clients additional items from their food and hygiene pantries. Food insecurity is undoubtedly one of the greatest needs that UWCC has identified since the hurricane.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Charlotte County have identified families in need of childcare subsidies, due to lost wages and other hurricane-related financial constraints and will use their funding to cover scholarships for 20 children.

Early Learning Coalition of Florida’s Heartland suffered a severe loss, from Hurricane Ian and Tropical Storm Nicole, of educational materials and supplies. Their funding award will allow children’s books and family materials to once again be available to families in need. This includes the purchase of materials for their popular Book Bag Buddies for children in foster care or recovering from a traumatic event.

The only need greater than food insecurity since Hurricane Ian is housing. The Charlotte County Homeless Coalition’s application noted that Hurricane Ian caused $3.2 billion in damage in Charlotte County and caused a 27% increase in their Emergency Shelter. Through our Community Impact Panel process, they were awarded funds to transition 20 families from homelessness into a new, permanent home.

The generosity of our community has allowed us to impact many lives through these two vehicles, but there are many needs that remain. UWCC will keep driving in our lane – mobilizing and distributing funds – as these funds are available.

To contribute to our United at Work fund or the Hurricane Ian Recovery fund, please visit or call our office at 941-627-3539.

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