United Way CEO President

A letter from our President & CEO

Dear United Way Friends,

Do U Live United? It’s the first thing I see every day at our United Way main campus. I touch it every morning and several times throughout the day. It grounds me. It makes me strive to be the best I can be. It inspires me and our team to coordinate and collaborate with our over 100 partners in our community. It makes me proud. But what does it really mean?

When I had the privilege of being named President and CEO of United Way, I knew it came with great responsibility. There were over sixty years of tradition and hard work that went into making our organization the thriving organization that it is today. So much dedication by volunteers, donors, and staff went into helping hundreds of thousands of people every year in good times or bad. Our United Way has helped our community through several hurricanes, downturns in the economy, and red tide. And now, we are facing one of our biggest challenges yet.

But what does it mean to Live United? Living United is an invitation to become part of the effort to collectively improve our community. It’s more than one person or one organization. It’s deciding to lift up everyone in order to improve the quality of life for those around us. It means that we show up for each other when we are needed most. It’s we, instead of me.

The United Way’s success lies in the people of our community, our Board of Directors, our volunteers, donors, partner agencies, and community stakeholders all coming together. We thrive when we join forces. That is Living United.

I am very fortunate to sit in a position where I can see the amazing work being done by our partner agencies on a daily basis. A lot of our agencies have had to change their business models and find innovative ways to virtually see clients and continue critical services. Partners are sharing food resources, surgical masks, and rallying volunteers. Our United Way Community Impact team is doing food rescue from restaurants, securing resources, and moving product for our agencies. Our United Way Volunteer Center is mobilizing volunteers to make masks and offer support to our agencies. Our Mission United program continues to serve our veterans. And our United Way 211 Helpline is fielding hundreds of calls a day to point our residents to the resources that are currently available. The United Way Network is in place because of your support.

As we move forward through this crisis, we are going to need your help. First of all, we need you to stay healthy. That means, you should stay home except for essential needs. Please check on your vulnerable neighbors to make sure they have 

what they need in terms of supplies. Remind those in need to call United Way 211 by dialing 2-1-1 or 239-433-3900. Other resources can be found at UnitedWayLee.org. And please, donate blood if you are able.

If you or your company are in a position to donate to the SWFL Emergency Relief Fund, we could use your support. In partnership with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, we will be releasing our first round of funding for critical needs. These critical needs include food and supplies for the home-bound elderly and vulnerable, as well as food for our families and residents that are in need. In the coming weeks, the fund will be needed for things like rent, utilities, and medications. The effects of this pandemic will be felt throughout our community for months. With your continued support, we can meet those needs.

United Way’s commitment to you is that we will continue to coordinate the network of partner agencies and services through this pandemic. Our Board and our staff promise to stay mission focused. We will continue to help our residents in need. We will continue to Live United.

Stay safe, stay well, and Live United.

Jeannine Joy
President & CEO

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