$1,000,000 race for local workforce

UWCC announces $500,000 matching grant

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

Before I begin today, let me jump, or rather run, straight to the point (that will make more sense in a minute). United Way of Charlotte County (UWCC) was offered a $500,000 matching grant from the Elsa & Peter Soderberg Foundation. These funds will match, dollar for dollar, donations for UWCC’s United at Work fund for employees of Charlotte County businesses who were impacted by Hurricane Ian. This gives Charlotte County the opportunity to collectively put $1,000,000 worth of assistance in the hands of our local workforce.

Now, let’s go back to the starting line to get the full picture of this race we will be embarking on together. On your mark, get set, go!

If your mornings are fueled by caffeine, you may be familiar with the tagline “America Runs on Dunkin’”. The Dunkin’ Donuts brand launched a marketing campaign of the same name in 2006 in an attempt to reach a larger market and grow their footprint.

The campaign emphasized the idea that Dunkin’ Donuts products are what fuel the hard workers in our nation. When these employees are properly fueled, they can show up to work, day in and day out, and keep America running.

Whether or not you indulge in a caffeinated pick-me-up on your way to the office, if you are part of the Charlotte County workforce, YOU are what keeps Charlotte County running.

Over the summer, UWCC’s Board of Directors identified a need to provide increased support to those in our community who keep things running. Our United at Work campaign was created with this in mind.

United at Work does not come with a steaming cup of coffee or a pair of running shoes. It does come with the opportunity for local businesses, as well as caring donors, to pool their resources to get Charlotte County employees on their feet again after Hurricane Ian.

An incredibly generous donation to United at Work has met us at the starting line and is ready to help Charlotte County run again. The Elsa & Peter Soderberg Foundation is offering a $500,000 matching donation to UWCC’s United at Work campaign to support working individuals and families employed by Charlotte County businesses.

“As my wife and I reflected on how to assist people in our region decimated by Hurricane Ian,” said Peter Soderberg, President of the Elsa & Peter Soderberg Foundation, “we were influenced by news of local businesses finding that a substantial number of their associates – at all levels – were either homeless or living in homes which were heavily damaged and nearly uninhabitable.”

At UWCC, we were heartbroken to hear those same stories. But I was thrilled and encouraged to discuss and finalize this partnership with the Soderberg Foundation and begin the work to get those matching funds.

Charlotte County couldn’t run without our hospitals, our grocery stores, our real estate agencies, our gas stations, our veterinary offices, our schools – public, charter and private – our banks, our nursing homes and assisted living facilities and the list goes on. Charlotte County runs on its workforce. And that workforce needs support now more than ever before.

Each donation to United at Work will be matched dollar for dollar up to the full match. “We urge you to join us in creating a $1,000,000 pool to help working individuals and families who work for Charlotte County employers to get immediate relief and a head start in rebuilding their lives,” said Soderberg.

Funds will be used to assist employees of Charlotte County businesses on a case-by-case basis after other appropriate disaster resources are exhausted. Our goal will be to help employees identify the resources best suited to meet their needs, with United at Work serving to fill gaps not covered by other resources.

UWCC has laced up its sneakers and will be working with Charlotte County businesses to get this fund up and running. Your donation can help us race toward that $1,000,000 finish line even faster. Consider supporting this opportunity to give HELP and give HOPE to Charlotte County. Donations can be made online at www.unitedwayccfl.org/UnitedAtWork or by calling 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 director@unitedwayccfl.org.