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Nicely retiring as head of LCS

December 27, 2017
By ERIC DeVAUX ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

With 10 years under one leader, Lehigh Community Services will have a new one in 2018.

Charlotte Rae Nicely, the executive director for the past decade, is retiring with the new year. Carolyn Peplow, who has been serving as the assistant director since 2016, is her replacement.

During Nicely's time, Lehigh Community Services has grown tremendously.

Article Photos

Charlotte Rae Nicely

"We've come a long way," she said. "We purchased our own building. We served 47,000 clients this year."

The organization has added 20 programs.

"We've expanded our literacy program, and we even relocated our classes to another facility because we have so many students," Nicely said.

Lehigh Community Services also provides free tax preparation services to local residents and has processed more returns in four years than any other United Way in Lee County, she added.

"One of the things I'm most proud of is our VITA program, which is the voluntary income tax assistance program," Nicely said. "We had over a million dollars returned to this community for four years. The people spend that money right here - it goes to Walmart, gas stations and the small businesses."

The growth has also been apparent in the culture of the agency.

"We've become more aware of the climate of our community because we interact with our clients on a daily basis," she said. "They talk to us and tell us what is going on. We try to be ahead of the curve."

Nicely noted that she could not have done it by herself.

"We couldn't have done it without the generous support of our donors and our colleagues in this community," she said.

Peplow explained that she wants to build on Nicely's success.

"I feel like (Nicely has) done such a great job that we run so well," she said. "I want it just to continue, maybe do some expansion in our literacy program."

Peplow was mentored by Nicely in preparation for the change of hands.

"I've been her assistant director for the last year," she said. "She's really worked with me to prepare me."

Even though Peplow is excited about the promotion, she will miss Nicely.

"I'm kind of saddened that (Nicely) is leaving," she said. "I'm going to miss her very much."

Nicely echoed that sentiment, but said it is time to go.

"It took me about three years," she said of deciding to retire.

"The young lady that is going to be my successor, I love her. She has experience," Nicely said. "I feel very confident with leaving it in her hands. You want to leave on a high note."

She offered some final words for the incoming executive director.

"It's your baby now, take good care of it," Nicely said.

For more information about the organization, visit

Lehigh Community Services is at 201 Plaza Drive, Suite 3.



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