How Do You Measure a Year?
By Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director – United Way of Charlotte County
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.
This is how a year is calculated in the Broadway musical Rent. The song “Seasons of Love” also gives daylights, sunsets, midnights and cups of coffee as alternate ways to measure a year. (Personally, I’m not sure I want to know how many cups of coffee I’ve consumed in the past twelve months…)
In Charlotte County, we could measure this year in all those ways and more. Perhaps it wasn’t as “unprecedented” as 2020, but it had its unique qualities. United Way of Charlotte County was fortunate to receive full financial support from the community to meet and exceed our goals this past year. The support from our donors, like a thread in a beautiful tapestry, was woven together with a thousand fibers connecting our community.
Each year on Giving Tuesday, we ask for your continued support. In preparing for this Giving Tuesday, which falls on November 30, we thought back on your previous generosity and the impact it had, and we asked ourselves how DO you measure a year?
We can measure the 800 households who received rent, mortgage and utility assistance through Season of Sharing. For families who live paycheck to paycheck, the COVID-19 pandemic had a ripple effect on their finances that left many teetering on the brink of homelessness. When we fill in the gap for one month, many families are able to regain their financial foothold without missing a beat.
We can measure the ten babies who were born substance exposed between April and September 2021. Through your support and the amazing work of Kids Thrive, none of these babies required admission to the neonatal intensive care unit due to withdrawal symptoms after birth. Kids Thrive provides families support to be successful in raising healthy children, and our local donors helped to make this possible for another year.
We can measure the 1,800 Kindergarten Readiness Bags that our staff and volunteers stuffed and distributed to preschool-age children in Charlotte County. Parents and caregivers were encouraged to use the materials in these bags to engage their children in fun learning experiences to help better prepare them for their upcoming educational journey.
We can measure the 49 chronically homeless adults who were served with comprehensive medical/mental health care, housing case management, financial assistance and support in applying for disability (SSI) benefits. Without connections to the right types of care, those experiencing chronic homelessness will continue to cycle in and out of the hospital emergency rooms, inpatient beds, detox program, jail, prison, and crisis unit, all with a high public and personal expense.
These are just a few of the impacts we can measure now, but there are also impacts that are planted for a future harvest. United Way of Charlotte County uses donor funds to tackle big issues that require long-term solutions. We are proud to share examples of the past year’s successes, but the true measure of change is the future success of our children, our families, our community, as we unite to make measurable impacts for the years ahead.
One moment of compassion and generosity makes it possible for anyone in our community to recover from a crisis, rebuild what was lost, to reimagine a new kind of future in 2022. We hope that once again you will help us reach our goals and our vision of a community united where collectively we help families reach their full potential! We encourage you to donate online on Tuesday, November 30 – Giving Tuesday at www.unitedwayccfl.org/giving-tuesday. Thank you in advance for your generosity. We look forward to measuring next year in smiles shared, hope restored and families transformed.
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.