United at Work is working

UWCC introduces case manager Stephanie Lucy

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

Aimed at providing assistance for members of Charlotte County’s workforce who were impacted by Hurricane Ian, United at Work, has been accepting donations for the past month. Not only have we reached 35% of our $500,000 goal, but we have also begun distributing these funds to employees who need help.  

The newest member of United Way of Charlotte County’s team, Stephanie Lucy, has the privilege of working directly with the individuals who are requesting assistance. To date, employees from 19 Charlotte County businesses or non-profit organizations have reached out for help.

“Everyone is super grateful,” said Stephanie. “Reimbursements through FEMA and insurance can take a long time, which forces people to use their regular pay for home repairs and extra living expenses. This can cause them to fall behind or go without.”

United at Work has been able to provide assistance in the form of gift cards for food, clothing and gasoline as well as rent and mortgage payments that are not covered by FEMA or insurance. “Being able to provide a rent or mortgage payment on their behalf frees up a little money for their other needs, like childcare or medical expenses,” said Stephanie.

United at Work is a new fund implemented in response to Hurricane Ian. Prior to the storm, United Way of Charlotte County’s (UWCC) Board of Directors identified a need to provide increased support to those in our community who keep things running; our workforce, and Hurricane Ian provided the momentum to kickstart that effort.

The Elsa & Peter Soderberg Charitable Foundation provided seed money in the form of a $500,000 matching grant that has allowed us to begin filling some of the unmet needs that the Charlotte County workforce has following the destruction of Hurricane Ian. As donations come in, they are matched dollar-for-dollar by the Soderberg Foundation.

I am particularly excited to have Stephanie Lucy on our team, after having the pleasure of working with her in 2015/2016 when she spent time as a volunteer and an intern at UWCC. She was a jack-of-all trades, lending a hand in many aspects of the work we do. When we decided to create this position to roll out United at Work, I knew she was just the right person to manage the program. During her previous time at UWCC, she took it upon herself to work with our Season of Sharing case managers, training them to have an effective application process. This type of passion and drive is what I knew United at Work needed.

Stephanie has a bachelor’s degree in human services and has been employed in the field for the past four years. “I was born here in Charlotte County,” said Stephanie. “Being able to give back to my community is amazing.”

There are basic guidelines that govern the fund, but each situation is slightly different, slightly more heartbreaking than the last. Stephanie’s task is to identify what unmet needs each family has that United at Work can fill. She does this through her incredible listening skills and heart for serving Charlotte County.

This case management position was funded in part by Gulf Coast Community Foundation. Because of their support of this administrative expense, 100% of every donation to United at Work will be used to assist our Charlotte County workforce. If we learned nothing else from COVID-19, it is that every member of our workforce is essential to getting our community built back after a crisis.

You can join our effort to keep the Charlotte County workforce moving despite recent setbacks. Every dollar donated, up to $500,000, will be matched by the Elsa & Peter Soderberg Charitable Foundation. Our goal is a $1 million fund (or more!) that will help get our community back to business as usual. Donations large and small will make an impact and 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.