Grateful Hearts and Economic Stability for ALICE

Miriam P. Raines Charitable Fund

For the last several years, United Way of Charlotte County has been fortunate to see accelerated impact as a result of the investments by our donors and from local foundations. This past month, we were notified of continued support from Gulf Coast Community Foundation. With this generous grant of $34,374, UWCC will continue our work with ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) women and mothers to increase their financial security. Through increasing the depth of services provided to women served by UWCC and its funded partners, and increasing their awareness and utilization of our VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) and SOS (Season of Sharing) programs, this will put additional income back into their households and/or prevent them from becoming homeless. 

As the Family Services Center is set to open this fall and UWCC integrates with the other partners housed there, the goal will be to incorporate the economic stability component of both programs, thereby increasing women/head-of-household access to financial stability skill sets and resources. The promise of this approach is economic security that passes from one generation to the next. The UWCC’s VITA program has seen growth as a result of previous Gulf Coast grants, which allowed UWCC to innovate with its programming. Even in a COVID-19 environment, volunteers were able to serve 17% more clients from 2018 (pre-COVID) to the 2020 tax season! In this past year as well, the number of SOS clients doubled, with over 800 families one step away from homelessness being kept in their homes through assistance with rent, mortgage, and utilities. This next year, it will be important that SOS clients are offered and receive assistance with their taxes and that VITA clients who are identified to need deeper services are connected with SOS.

UWCC coordinates and facilitates an extensive vetting process for human service agencies requesting UWCC donor and local government dollars. As part of the Gulf Coast investment, UWCC has been working with funded agencies to explore the demographics of those served at the 18 agencies. Developing a greater understanding of the population served and developing shared outcomes to demonstrate community-level impact is an integral component of UWCC’s strategic plan.

This is a beautiful gift made possible through a bequest in the will of Miriam P. Raines, who established a permanently endowed charitable fund at Gulf Coast Community Foundation. I never met her, but from what I’ve learned about her, I love her heart. Truly, I am a woman who wants to honor her heart and legacy. UWCC has seen successes that would not have been possible had she not seen forward and made the legacy investment of a charitable endowment.

Mrs. Raines was passionate about helping Charlotte County women improve their lives through education and by furthering their life skills. She wanted to uplift women and help them keep their families together by giving them the tools to remain independent. Knowing that her wishes and dreams for women in Charlotte County are being realized and that her giving spirit will carry on for generations to come is a treasure.

What makes it even more special though is that she chose Gulf Coast Community Foundation to steward those funds. To take responsibility for a legacy gift and ensure it is spent in a fashion fitting of the woman who made it is no small thing. In fact, at the heart of Gulf Coast are people who wake up every day wanting to serve and provide a legacy worthy of the person who dreamed the dream and worked to give back. Jennifer Johnston, our Charlotte County contact at the foundation, has tirelessly engaged with the partners here to understand who we are as a community, what the critical need is, and how can that be merged with donors’ wishes. It is a pleasure to work with these legacy stewards. Bless you, each one of you.  

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, the Executive Director of United Way of Charlotte County. She can be reached at or at 941-627-3539.