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United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades, and Okeechobee reaches campaign goal

By Staff | Mar 31, 2021

news@breezenewspapers.com

The United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee has concluded the 2020-2021 Campaign, and met the campaign goal of $10.8 million due to the generous contributions of individuals and businesses in the region. This is the 28th consecutive year that the goal has been met or exceeded.

Campaign Chairs Karen Ryan (LCEC) and Bob Beville (Waterman Broadcasting) announced that local residents and companies contributed a record amount: $10.8 million to the campaign. The theme of the 2020-2021 United Way Campaign was “Rise to the Challenge.”

“The United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee met its fundraising goal of $10.8 million in spite of an economy devastated by COVID-19. It is stunning and speaks volumes about the generosity of our community,” Ryan said.

The announcement was made at the March 26 meeting of the United Way Board of Directors at the Bell Tower Courtyard. The meeting was a hybrid Zoom/In-Person event in order to comply with CDC regulations.

“When we accepted this challenge in the middle of a pandemic, we knew it was going to be difficult to meet the goal; but Karen and I knew we couldn’t let the 96 United Way partner agencies down.  Through the perseverance and dedication of the United Way Board, the incredible United Way Staff, ‘never give up’ Campaign Cabinet, and our amazing community we proved that we could rise to the challenge,” Beville said.

Alexis de Tocqueville donors are those that donate over $10,000 to United Way. This year, Alexis de Tocqueville donors, led by the esteemed David Lucas, comprised 43% of the campaign. Mr. Lucas has a 31-year history of fostering philanthropy among his United Way peers.  This year, there was an additional $629,082 donated to the campaign; a 15.7% increase over last year’s totals. Lucas brought in an additional 25 members to the group, which brings this year’s total to 203 members.

The United Way’s local partners who will benefit include the Harry Chapin Food Bank, Community Cooperative, Abuse Counseling and Treatment (ACT), and Children’s Advocacy Center.

Hungry families will receive food, veterans will find support through Mission United, abused children will find safety and shelter, older persons can find assistance to remain in their own homes, and thousands of lower income families can get their taxes done free through Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). Donations and support help others live a better life.

“It is such a testament to the incredible generosity of our community and the drive and tenacity of the entire United Way Team for achieving this incredible goal. On behalf of the entire United Way Partner Agency Network, we extend our gratitude to everyone who made reaching this goal possible,” states David Brown, President of United Way Partner Agency, Family Initiative, Inc. 

 In addition to supporting 96 Partner Agency and over 260 programs, in 2020 United Way provided:

• $1.97 million dollars for childcare scholarships, allowing families to get back to work.

• 1.05 million in PPE items to families, seniors, medical facilities, veterans, and nonprofits.

• 16,396 items to students in need through the United Way School Resource Center.

• 1,790 veterans with resources for housing, counseling, and care coordination.

• Tens of thousands of meals for struggling residents through food banks and pantries.

• Tax returns for 5,800 individuals and families resulting in $10 million from refunds and fees going back into the Southwest Florida economy.

• Response to 80,545 UW 2-1-1 calls directing families and residents to much needed services.

For more information, please call United Way at 239-433-2000 or visit www.UnitedWayLee.org.