United Way of Lee, Hendry, and Glades celebrated its 2022-23 Campaign Kickoff at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers, where more than 600 business, nonprofit and community leaders gathered to hear updates from the organization. Event sponsors included Alta Resources and Publix Super Markets.
United Way Board Chair Bob Beville opened the Dec. 14 event with a moment of silence for the victims of Hurricane Ian, a storm that devastated the community and increased the need for support across the community.
“United Way’s mission is to improve the quality of life for all people in our community,” Beville said. “That is our mission during blue skies and gray skies. The impact of Hurricane Ian on our community was catastrophic. The need became urgent.”
Beville shared that the SWFL Emergency Relief Fund, a partnership between United Way and Collaboratory, already has generated nearly a $5 million impact on the community. United Way leaders stressed the importance of core United Way funding that supports more than 260 partner agencies and community initiatives.
Campaign Co-chairs Sally Jackson and Matt Humphreys spoke about the Power of the Network and the importance of being United More Than Ever, which is this year’s campaign theme. They took turns describing different ways United Way Partner Agencies collaborated during this critical time of recovery and relief after Hurricane Ian.
Pacesetter Co-chairs Noelle Branning and Kevin Karnes gave updates about companies and organizations that ran their United Way campaigns early to set the pace for the rest of the community. Pacesetter giving, along with early Alexis de Tocqueville Society giving (individuals who contribute $10,000+ annually) has put United Way at 53.7% of the 2022-23 campaign goal of $11,186,558. There are currently 155 Pacesetters with 553 individuals who give at the Keel Club level (donations of $1,000+ annually), including 60 who are Alexis de Tocqueville donors. The total raised thus far is $6,007,182.
The top eight Pacesetter companies are:
- Publix Super Markets 2021 – $1,100,000
- Bonita Bay Group – $696,924
- Carol Beesley’s Beesley’s Paw Prints – $278,000
- FineMark National Bank & Trust – $215,000
- LCEC – $200,000
- Lee Health – $184,255
- Lee Board of County Commissioners – $159,630
- O’Donnell Landscaping, Inc. – $112,500
“We cannot thank our Pacesetters enough for the great start to this important campaign,” Jackson said. “The $11.2 million dollar goal is essential to improving the lives of our friends, families and neighbors in our community, especially after the catastrophic event that has forever changed our landscape.”
“We are thankful to all of our donors and volunteers for deeply caring about the wellbeing of our community,” Humphreys added. “What an amazing start to such an important mission in our community.”
A highlight of the Campaign Kickoff was when former Campaign Co-chairs Beth Hendry and John Clinger gave away a two-year Lexus NX lease from Scanlon Auto Group, a longtime supporter. This marks the 22nd year that Scanlon has donated a vehicle to one generous United Way supporter who contributes at least $240 annually through a payroll deduction. This year, Anthony Leporatti of The City of Fort Myers was the lucky recipient.
All money raised through the United Way campaign stays in the local community to help support the local human service network of partner agencies. United Way Partner Agencies such as Harry Chapin Food Bank, Community Cooperative, Abuse Counseling and Treatment, Children’s Advocacy Center, Literacy Council Gulf Coast, and Boys & Girls Clubs serve a diverse range of needs in the community.
In addition to raising funds for human service organizations, United Way promotes partnerships and collaborations among agencies, helping them work together to focus on issues that continue to improve lives. United Way’s mission as a volunteer-driven organization is to improve the quality of life for all people in our community.
United Way of Lee, Hendry, and Glades was established in 1957 and has raised and distributed more than $210 million since that time. For more information, please call (239) 433-2000 or visit UnitedWayLee.org.