One Degree of Transformation

Honoring Those Who Made an Impact

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

I could have been a pilot.

In the world of air navigation, pilots universally understand the 1 in 60 rule. The rule states that for every 1 degree a plane gets off course, it misses its target destination by 1 mile for every 60 miles flown.

If my life had veered one degree off from its course, perhaps air travel would have been my career destination. Who knows?

Flight plans don’t follow a straight path, partly because the earth is round, but also to avoid weather systems and other aircraft. And much like a flight plan, our lives don’t follow a straight course. But it only takes a small nudge in one direction or the other to entirely transform the path and its final destination.

But where do these transformational nudges come from?

Sometimes it is an unexpected life circumstance. It could come from misjudged timing. But more often than not, our lives are transformed by the people around us.

A nudge could have come from your favorite high school teacher when she encouraged you to sign up for the academic quizzing team. A nudge could have come from your grandfather when he opened your first savings account for your tenth birthday. A nudge could have come from your neighbor when she brought meals for your family regularly while you were caring for your sick mother.

For these transformational moments that impacted our lives and left a soft spot on our hearts, we say thank you. These individuals have created a lasting memory, a legacy, of care and kindness that nudged us ever so slightly in a more positive direction.

I met Kay Jones thirty years ago. As my internship supervisor at Grady Hospital in Atlanta, she taught me three important things that I have carried through my career.

1. Do everything with excellence.

2. Treat everyone with respect and a smile.

3. Stand tall even when you are afraid.

No, she didn’t change my overall career path. Kay nudged me just one degree outside my original trajectory and set me on the path that led me right here, transforming local lives in Charlotte County with excellence and a smile.

I give to United Way of Charlotte County because I know the value of a nudge. I give this year in honor of Kay Jones, who impacted how I live my life and walk my career path.

You can honor the legacy of someone in your life by giving a gift in their name to make a similar impact on your Charlotte County family, friends and neighbors. The work of United Way of Charlotte County relies on the generosity of the people in our community who want to actively, intentionally transform local lives.

We prioritize educational success, just like your favorite high school teacher. We prioritize financial stability, just like your grandfather. We prioritize health and wellbeing, just like your neighbor.

Your gift In Honor of, or In Memory of that special someone will transform local lives, just as that special someone transformed yours. Donate today at and share your story with us.

Everybody has somebody who has transformed their life, somebody who has made an impact.

Who is your somebody?

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