Written by Linda Dobson, United Way of Charlotte County
Edward Fisher is a single parent of a 5-year-old girl who is the center of his universe. When his job as a lawn worker ended in November, he was devastated. “After four weeks I found employment, but we need to somehow stay caught up for the future,” said Edward. “If I become homeless, I don’t know what will happen to my daughter. She’s my No. 1 priority.”
Enter the Season of Sharing program.
Since February 2001, United Way of Charlotte County has served as the county’s only Season of Sharing fiscal agent, without any compensation. In 2014, the organization administered $230,000; by 2015 it was $415,000, funds that have helped people of all ages weather the threats of temporary unemployment, unexpected home repairs, car accidents, medical emergencies and more without losing the place they call home.
“I’m thrilled to announce a record milestone of $600,000 administered during our recent fiscal year,” said Julie Mathis, United Way of Charlotte County board president. “Our incredible partnership with The Community Foundation of Sarasota County created a true stopgap measure to prevent homelessness for 679 families in Charlotte County, two-thirds of which include children under the age of 18.”
Mathis credits United Way’s small yet dedicated, professional staff’s efficiency for expanding the program, working hard to keep up with the community’s needs.
The Season of Sharing program, started in 2000, also serves residents of Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties, and provides a heart-warming example of what happens when a community works together. Responding to the obvious need for emergency funding for families facing crisis, like Edward and his daughter, The Herald Tribune Media Group shared stories of homelessness and started an annual fundraising campaign. The Community Foundation of Sarasota County then stepped up and volunteered to manage the donations. Funding has grown from $121,000 during the first year to more than $2 million a year today.
“Since 2009, The Patterson Foundation has generously contributed more than $3 million in matching donations,” says United Way of Charlotte County Director Carrie Hussey. “The Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation have additionally contributed $650,000 since 2012.
In our county, where 40 percent of the population is considered the working poor, Season of Sharing funds are keeping families from falling through the cracks into poverty.”
Over time, a host of media outlets have joined The Herald Tribune Media Group as important partners in the fundraising effort, including our own Sun Newspapers, iHeart Media, ABC7, and Sarasota Magazine/ Biz941.
Donations are easily earmarked for Charlotte County. “As always, the entire donation — 100 percent — goes directly to helping families stay in their homes,” said Hussey. “Thanks to the matching funds, Season of Sharing shines as a powerful way to leverage your gift to the most vulnerable members of our community.”
YOU CAN HELP.
However you donate, be sure to let the Foundation know which county you wish to support, e.g., Charlotte County.
Donate online at: cfsarasotal.org
Donate by phone at: 941-556-2399 for credit cards
Donate by check by writing Charlotte County Season of Sharing on memo line to:
Community Foundation of Sarasota County
2635 Fruitville Rd.
Sarasota, FL 34237
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