United Way Reaches Goal

The United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades, and Okeechobee has concluded the 2020-2021 Campaign, and met the campaign goal of $10.8 million.  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,” states Ryan.

The announcement was made at the March 26th 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, a “never give up” Campaign Cabinet, and our amazing community we proved that we could “Rise to the Challenge”, says Beville.  “The generosity of our community during good times and bad is remarkable. It is truly heart-warming to see so many offering a hand up when it is needed most”, adds Ryan.

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, with David’s encouragement, there was an additional $629,082 donated to the campaign; a 15.7% increase over last year’s totals.  Mr. Lucas brought in an additional 25 members to the group, which brings this year’s total to 203 members, and a record-breaking $4,658,204.

Making the goal means United Way Partner agencies will receive their share of funding for the coming year.  Long standing United Way Partners like Harry Chapin Food Bank, Community Cooperative, Abuse Counseling and Treatment (ACT), and Children’s Advocacy Center will be able to continue their vital programs because of the support provided to United Way by the community in surpassing our goal. Because of the generosity of Southwest Florida, 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.

“A very sincere thank you to all of the individuals, companies, communities, and partner agencies for your generous contributions.  You all prove time and again what an incredibly caring community this is,” said United Way President, Jeannine Joy.

“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.

The top local contributing companies and the top communities are as follows:

Top United Way Contributors

Million Dollar Circle of Excellence


Bonita Bay Community

$500,000 Circle of Excellence

Bonita Bay Group

Islands of Sanibel & Captiva

$100,000 Circle of Excellence

Fiddlesticks Community

FineMark National Bank & Trust

Grandezza Community

Gulf Harbour Community

Gunterberg Foundation, The Culliton Family, Brotherhood of Heroes Resource Center & Museum


Lee Board of County Commissioners

Lee County School District

Lee Health

Mediterra Community

Pelican Landing Community

Pelican Preserve Community

Shell Point Community

The Brooks Community               


All money raised in the United Way Campaign stays in the local community to help support the local human service network. United Way partner agencies and initiatives like Alvin A. Dubin Alzheimer’s Resource Center, Child Care of Southwest Florida, The Salvation Army, Bonita Springs Assistance, Lighthouse of Southwest Florida,  Mission United, and United Way 211 serve a diverse range of needs in our community such as nurturing children and youth, strengthening families, and meeting critical needs such as helping the elderly and disabled live independently, and empowering communities by bringing health and human services to neighborhoods.

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 PPE items to families, seniors, medical facilities, veterans, and non-profits.
  • 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.

The United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades, and Okeechobee has raised and distributed over $199 million since it was established in 1957.