By Michelle Braun, president and CEO, United Way of Northeast Florida
Two simple words filled with deep appreciation.
As we wrap up another fiscal year, we reflect on what we have accomplished together. The year began with Hurricane Irma at our doorstep. As neighbors helped neighbors, United Way, The Community Foundation For Northeast Florida, the Jewish Federation of Jacksonville and the Jessie Ball duPont Fund came together to activate Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund.
Thanks to the generosity of individuals and community partners such as the Jacksonville Jaguars and Mayo Clinic, nearly $4 million was raised to provide relief to those who needed it most. Through these funds, nonprofit partners like American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Jewish Family and Community Services and Catholic Charities helped a quarter million people in Northeast Florida.
The hurricane response was a tangible example of United Way’s mission to connect people, resources and ideas to solve our community’s toughest challenges. But the individuals and families United Way fights for face personal storms every day.
They are our neighbors, our coworkers, our friends – they are us. We all need help from time to time.
United Way works hard to make sure help is available together with our partners like Sulzbacher Center, Clara White Mission, Barnabas Center, Communities in Schools, City Year, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Duval County Public Schools and Operation New Hope, to name just a few.
We provide access to basic needs, such as food, clothing and shelter. We provide financial stability programs to help people budget and reduce debt. Together, we provide scholarships to hardworking families for quality child care and mentors for students working hard in school. And we work together to develop long-term solutions for community change.
We know that “change doesn’t happen alone.” It takes donors and volunteers, nonprofit partners and funders and community leaders of all types to help us accomplish this work.
Thank you to our board of directors and our staff for their expertise, tireless efforts and commitment to community change.
Thank you to our partners who collaborate to build high-performing systems of services, including Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund, Full Service Schools, Mayor Curry’s Youth At Work Partnership, the Network for Southern Economic Mobility and so many more.
Thank you to philanthropic visionaries like Delores Barr Weaver, who this year, gave our organization its first $1 million endowment gift.
Thank you to business leaders like Florida Blue and all corporate partners who show top companies can – and should – be part of the solution in changing lives.
Thank you to our 12,500 volunteers who, last year alone, served 60,000 hours across 163 community-service projects.
And thank you to the tens of thousands of people each year who come together – give together – for our community.
When you give to United Way, thanks to the power of partnerships, your donation is doubled.
All of your efforts combined – your collective impact – isn’t just at work during hurricane season or the holidays or back-to-school season or when the next crisis hits the news cycle.
Every day – together – we are serving people in need.
Every day, we are thinking differently and changing how we define philanthropy in Northeast Florida.
But every day, we need to do more.
We know our community is counting on us to help, is counting on us to change the odds for Northeast Florida.
Thank you for your commitment – for your passion and compassion. We simply cannot do this work without you.
Because change doesn’t happen alone.