Jacksonville, Fla. – United Way of Northeast Florida announced today its goal to raise $21,253,955 during the 2014 Community Campaign. More than 600 corporate, civic and community leaders attended today’s kickoff event where the goal was announced, early results were celebrated and guests were energized to achieve big results that will make a big impact.
This year’s kickoff was the first for new president and CEO, Michelle Braun, who began her new role in July 2014 after an impactful career in community development in the financial and nonprofit sectors.
“We serve the biggest city in the continental U.S., the biggest county in Florida, and have some of the nation’s biggest corporations based right here in Northeast Florida,” Braun said. “This year’s theme, “Big Results. Big Impact.” is a call to take the limits off and make tomorrow better for each and every one of us.”
In a nostalgic throwback to the 1988 film “Big,” starring Tom Hanks, the event welcomed guests into a larger-than-life world complete with a giant electronic foot-operated keyboard, oversized stuffed animals, and trampoline performers.
The 2014 Campaign Chair and Chairman and CEO of Florida Blue, Pat Geraghty, reminded guests that while the lighthearted film tells the story of a teenager who wished to be a “grown-up,” many children in our community find themselves confronted with the responsibilities of being an adult far before they are ready.
“When this happens, United Way volunteers and donors provide the resources and support needed to help children find their way in the world,” Geraghty said.
Geraghty asked people across Northeast Florida to consider the monumental impact they could have in improving the quality of life for everyone through giving and volunteering.
“By Living United, we make wishes come true for many Northeast Florida families,” said Geraghty. “As a result, children are entering kindergarten with the literacy and cognitive skills necessary for long-term academic success, graduation rates are increasing, families are learning to better manage their finances and more people are accessing the care they need to lead healthy, productive lives.”
These results come out of an increased focus on supporting researched-based initiatives that deliver measured outcomes in education, income and health. Anna Lopez Brosche, United Way of Northeast Florida board of directors chair and managing partner at Ennis, Pellum and Associates, introduced attendees to a few of their neighbors whose lives were changed as a result of generous donations and support of United Way of Northeast Florida, including Jessica Broadway, Kimberly Rucker-Brown and Elizabeth Hernandez.
Overcoming the incarceration of her father and the tragic losses of her mother and grandmother while she was in high school, Broadway received critical guidance and support that helped her manage her emotions, stay on track to graduation and attend college to pursue her nursing degree. Volunteer tax preparers completed Brown’s returns and found that she was eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit that enabled her to get out of a difficult financial situation. Elizabeth Hernandez received a two-year scholarship to a high-quality early learning center for her son, Jayden, that provides him with the cognitive and early literacy skills he needs to be ready for kindergarten and long-term academic success.
“With your help and your support, we will achieve even bigger results with an even bigger impact that will improve the quality of life for all,” Geraghty said in closing.
The 2014 United Way Community Campaign will engage thousands of local businesses, as well as individual donors and volunteers, and will conclude in June 2015 at the close of the fiscal year.[hr]
About United Way of Northeast Florida
United Way focuses on education, income and health – the building blocks for a quality life. The organization supports measurable solutions to ensure children enter school ready to learn, students stay on track to graduation, families achieve financial stability and people have the tools to lead healthy, productive lives. More information can be found at: www.unitedwaynefl.org.