United Way's Community Relief Efforts Following Hurricane Ian

Under the direction of Executive Director Angie Matthiessen and Program Managers Stephanie Lucy and Jen Wolfe, United Way of Charlotte County has shown dedication and resilience in their efforts to assist the community during and after Hurricane Ian. The staff unanimously agreed that "helping people'' was at the heart of their goal when asked what part of their job they enjoyed the most.  Angie Mathiessen's enthusiasm for the organization's objective was clear, as she stated "I love our mission; I feel there is a tremendous opportunity to help the people in our community to break the cycle of poverty. I get up every morning with love to do that."

In order to help those in need, United Way of Charlotte County has been actively mobilizing assets, funds, and volunteers. They collaborate closely with neighborhood organizations like St. Vincent de Paul and Gulf Coast Partnership to make sure that resources are distributed effectively to people who are on the verge of homelessness or are having trouble paying their bills. The organization oversees the distribution of funds for human services throughout the county, sponsoring 18 agencies with a focus on poverty. But they face obstacles in their admirable effort to support the neighborhood. Working with limited resources is a constant battle for the team, making it challenging to give certain people the long-term assistance they desperately need. As Stephanie and Jen say, “it’s difficult having to stretch the dollars, and not being able to provide enough help or ongoing long-term help that some people are needing, they're all in need of more services than what we can offer.”

United Way of Charlotte County responded right away to evaluate their role in assisting the community when Hurricane Ian hit. The team put in a lot of effort to help all nonprofit organizations and staff members who were impacted by the disaster by offering them resources and relief.  The storm also led to new collaborations with organizations like CareerSource, allowing them to double their financial output and help more households than ever before.

Following Hurricane Ian, the United Way of Charlotte County launched its "United at Work" initiative to assist people who are employed but are having financial difficulties. Hundreds of households have already benefited significantly from our effort by receiving the tools they need to deal with their financial difficulties. To date the United at Work program helped 522 households. 

United Way also collaborated and assisted in providing support for all Publix employees in Charlotte County in the immediate aftermath. So, in the month following the disaster, they undertook case management with Publix employees to ensure they had all necessities they required. Publix setup resource pods in each store, stocked with immediate necessities as well as distributed gift cards to employees for purchasing food.

Although recovery efforts have been ongoing, United Way recognizes that more needs to be done. The team remains committed to improving outreach and communication to ensure that more people are aware of the resources available to them. Additionally, United Way is actively working on refining their disaster response plan to be better prepared for any future calamities.

The unwavering dedication and collaborative attitude of United Way of Charlotte County reflect their commitment to the community's well-being. As they continue to face problems and support those in need, their unshakable purpose to serve people and create a lasting difference remains at the heart of their efforts. 

                                                         United Way of Charlotte County Team



About the LTRG

The Charlotte County Long-Term Recovery Group works to coordinate recovery services and build resiliency for individuals, families, and entities adversely impacted by Hurricane Ian in Charlotte County. Its purpose is to engage the community and create a vision while re-imagining the systems and landscape of our community. A plan will be created and published in the Fall of 2023. For more information, please contact us at LTRteam@gulfcoastpartnership.org.

About United Way

United Way of Charlotte County brings together local agencies, corporations, donors, volunteers, and government to create lasting social change.  Our work and our investments stay right here, supporting thousands of people every year. We strategically invest in, partner with, and mobilize local community partners to solve the most complex social issues. To contact United Way of Charlotte County, go to www.unitedwayccfl.org or call 941.627.3539.