What We See vs. What We Hear

The Parent Voice and Our Community's Response

By Angie Matthiesen, Executive Director

Many of you may remember that my word for 2024 is LISTEN.  The topic for this column is heartbreaking as we really listen to the needs of those in our community.   Unless you or someone close to you has had health problems, addiction challenges, or is underemployed, you may think you know some of the remedies. We see struggling families in our community each and every day. And we must listen.

Women United of Charlotte County’s mission is empowering families to raise healthy children. We do this work by supporting the Kids Thrive! collaborative. One of the amazing achievements of the Kids Thrive! collaborative is the Circle of Parents.

ktThe mothers from Circle of Parents have been able to move from addiction and little hope for the future to rehabilitation and amazing hope for the future. These leadership parents want to break that cycle for their children. But they need the support of the community to help lift them up. We need to listen, not simply see, and assume.

After listening intently, Women United is implementing a Spring Refresh Essentials Drive for the Circle of Parents this April. Families in poverty and in the ALICE category (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed) are struggling with choices to buy paper products vs. cleaning products or hygiene products. Can you imagine? It would be no easy choice to make these decisions for your family.

The UWCC funded navigator for Kids Thrive is Ms. Cyndee Oathout, who is doing incredible work supporting the parents in this peer group. “Cyndee relayed what these families really need, and it was not a shock to me, but it is shocking that this is the state of day to day living for so many moms.”, says UWCC Family Empowerment Director Jill Swan. “Considering the cost of a package of paper towels, I know this struggle intellectually. But hearing it directly from the navigator for these brave moms, helps me know it emotionally.”

As a community that is where we need to be. Compassion for those who have been left behind due to generations of barriers like job loss, health issues, and all the fall-out that happens when children grow up in dangerous and insecure circumstances. You can help in the next two weeks in a very simple way.

The Spring Essentials Refresh Drive has drop off locations all over the county! Please help by picking up a wish list at one of these generous local organizations or visit www.unitedwayccfl.org/springrefresh. These essentials will make all the difference for families who must make these difficult purchase choices every single day.

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.


Spring Essentials Refresh Drive Locations include:

Crews Bank & Trust – five branch location
2331 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda 33950                   
24163 Peachland Blvd, Port Charlotte 33954           
3002 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte 33952                 
1100 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte 33953                  
12651 S. McCall Road, Port Charlotte 33981           

Deep Creek Community Church                       
1500 Cooper St, Punta Gorda 33950

HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital – Cafeteria                 
21298 Olean Blvd. Port Charlotte 33952

The Nix Team of Coldwell Banker Sunstar Realty
2421 Shreve St Suite 111, Punta Gorda 33950

Patrice Weston State Farm Insurance                       
1946 Kings Highway, Port Charlotte 33980

Public Safety Complex                                      
1410 Tamiami Trial, Punta Gorda 33950

Shepherd Insurance
18501 Murdock Circle, Suite 500, Port Charlotte 33948

Sunshine Ace Hardware, Inc.                                     
912a Kings Hwy, Port Charlotte 33980

Publix at Punta Gorda Crossing
2310 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda 33950 APRIL 14th ONLY

United Way of Charlotte County                       
17831 Murdock Circle, Suite A, Port Charlotte 33948