Mobilizing opportunities are all around
by Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director – United Way of Charlotte County
Hope is not a strategy. I heard these words the other day and quickly reminded myself that I was in fact, wearing a t-shirt with the word H.O.P.E. blasted across the front. I took pause for a moment and thought… well if it is not a strategy, then we have been wasting our time this past year. Then I laughed at myself.
Many circumstances led to us claiming HOPE as our campaign theme last June. We wanted to Help Other People Everyday; Help Open People’s Eyes; and give hope and help people know they can Hold On, Pain Ends. You get the idea.
Our H.O.P.E. t-shirts were ordered and we were ready for our Block Party to kick off our new campaign, the first few weeks of October. In rolled Ian and that changed everything. But it didn’t change our hope. It was our anchor before, and it has been our anchor since.
Last month, the whole team attended the United Way Florida annual conference. Much of the focus that week was directed toward ensuring the United Way network is strong and ready to address disasters (natural and manmade). It was an honor to sit on a panel with disaster response and recovery leaders to discuss with attendees the importance of establishing their Disaster Response Advance Actions. This includes understanding your local environment, determining the expectations for your UW (internally and externally); understanding the tools we have and need, and then leveraging the strength of the local United Way network.
One thing I can say is that I have never been prouder to be affiliated with the UW network. The support, resources, guidance, and hope received from our local and national United Way partners was very needed and appreciated. One key message included knowing your mission. We know more than anything that we will allow our passion for mobilizing the power of our community to guide us.
This week we had the opportunity to focus on our ageless engagement priorities which is ensuring access to resources for seniors. When asked recently if we wanted to assist with distributing hurricane preparedness meal kits to seniors, it was an immediate yes. We want to bring hope to seniors. In partnership with Florida Power and Light, Senior Friendship Centers and HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital, over 100 kits with three days of shelf-stable foods were provided to seniors this week.
FPL is committed to working with the communities they serve to make Florida an even better place to live, work, raise a family and help customers prepare for hurricane season. Charlotte Miller, FPL Area Manager, SW Florida External Affairs and UWCC Board Member emphasized, “If seniors do not have access to food or water after a storm rolls through, these shelf stable hurricane meal kits will give them the opportunity to have three days worth of food and provide a little comfort during storm season.”
Debra Bragg with Senior Friendship Centers explained the importance of “getting in the mindset of hurricane preparations” and Kelly Carr with HCA Florida Fawcett was ready to provide some hope with the kits to one of the classes she teaches.
In my eyes and heart, hope is a strategy and we must mobilize to share it. As we chose the word hope last year and then collectively experienced the hurricane, a simple chalkboard in our office asked, “When I think of hope, I think of…” The words that followed from seekers of help and hope, say it all – courage, comfort, care, gratitude, future. Join us today, would you like to be a hope mobilizer for your community?
Visit unitedwayccfl.org/volunteer to sign up for opportunities to share hope with others.
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 email@example.com.