Break out your fancy China because a community celebration is in order. You know the dishes I’m talking about – the ones you save for special occasions. United Way of Charlotte County (UWCC) feels that twelve months of community mobilization is worthy to be called a special occasion and we are ready to celebrate with you! Join us Thursday, June 11 at 9 a.m. on Facebook Live as we celebrate the past year of community impact and those who have poured themselves into the community alongside us.
As you dust off your favorite teacup, let me remind you of UWCC’s mission: Mobilizing the power of our community to break the cycle of poverty. No single issue causes poverty and no single program or agency will get rid of it. We strategically invest in, partner with, and mobilize local community partners to collectively solve the most complex social issues.
This past campaign year is one worthy of celebration. UWCC funded 28 programs from 21 partner agencies that do great work in Charlotte County. Collectively, the impact of their work helps to improve financial stability, education, and health and wellbeing for our residents. Additionally, donors provide funding for 3 community collaborations – Charlotte County Reads, Ending Chronic Homelessness, and Kids Thrive – comprised of a broad spectrum of local nonprofits. Their combined efforts provide an exponential impact for those they serve.
Poverty was also addressed during this past year through Season of Sharing. UWCC is the fiscal agent in Charlotte County to administer funds that are provided by a grant from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. The funds are intended to fill a temporary need for families who experience a hardship. Providing them the means to pay their rent, mortgage, and/or utility bills can be the difference between a family staying on their feet or becoming homeless. Through SOS last year, $246,960 helped 292 Charlotte County families stay in their homes with help for rent, mortgage and utilities.
A powerhouse of mobilization takes place annually through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. This past year the VITA Team consisted of 58 volunteers who put in 2,340 volunteer hours, before the program was cut short half-way through from COVID-19. This program is vital to connecting IRS-certified volunteers with low- and moderate-income taxpayers to ensure they do not pay tax preparation fees but also that they receive every deduction and credit they are entitled to.
As we wrapped up our fiscal year in March, we were challenged along with the rest of the world in responding to COVID-19. We are proud of how our team was able to pivot our mobilization mission during this time, joining forces with the Gulf Coast Partnership, Charlotte County Human Services and Charlotte Community Foundation to steer the local Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD – ). Our initial role was to process assistance requests for residents who were financially impacted by COVID-19 through Season of Sharing. In organizing the COAD action steps to respond and recover and specific areas of focus came to light, UWCC was tasked with leading the Youth & Education task force, mobilizing weekly convening’s with over twenty community organizations. Out of this task force, partners agree the network and collaboration have been awe inspiring in answering the pressing needs for our youth and their families.
Of course, there is still more to be done and the depth of consequences for our families is not yet felt. Your UWCC has been serving Charlotte County for 55 years and as we have every year at this time, now is the time to reflect on our progress and celebrate the collective impact our community partners have achieved this past year. We see the impact in the community, and we feel it in our own hearts. Join us in celebrating the love that has been poured out on Charlotte County and may your own cup runneth over just as ours has.