Guest Column: Showing Up for Others

The following guest column is by United Way of Charlotte County Executive Director Angie Matthiessen.

Seven days and five events and you showed up. I am still thinking about this past week and giving thanks.

But first let me share a little background. The United Way of Charlotte County (UWCC) began exploring community priorities the summer of 2022, asking questions of our partners, and listening to the needs. We learned much that summer and then Hurricane Ian rolled in and changed our lives. The needs and priorities did not change, but the storm blaringly amplified those issues.

Over the next several weeks, we will share a little about what we learned and the journey since then. Our mission - mobilizing the power of our community to break the cycle of poverty has been our guide and notice the first part of that sentence of our mission? Mobilizing…

Mobilizing the power of our community is where you came in. After the isolation of the pandemic and storm recovery, we felt the urgency, not only for those who need help but for those who want to help.

UWCC staff and board members decided to prioritize seeking volunteers and connecting them to meaningful opportunities. With that vision, UWCC was fortunate to receive a grant from the Miriam P. Raines Fund at Gulf Coast Community Foundation to support an expansion of our mobilization efforts.

Three women stand outside by staircase and large green tree smiling.
Gulf Coast's Jennifer Johnston with Angie Matthiessen

I met with Jennifer Johnston from Gulf Coast Community Foundation this week to share the journey of this past year. An amazing champion of Charlotte County and always eager to hear updates, I was able to share how incredible the response has been to those reaching out for volunteer opportunities.

Just this past week is a great example, from a Reading Buddy training, to assembling Kindergarten Readiness bags, providing free tax preparation services, Read Across America activities at Peace River Elementary School and then finally our annual Beaujolais event. These moments when we see your faces, being willing to lend a hand, read a book, share hope with someone else. They are special and so appreciated as you continue to show up.

Especially striking to me was the mix of individuals, whether it be a retired person (we call you Ageless), a Women United member or a team from a local business, it is awe inspiring. Over 100 volunteer spots were filled by you, wonderful mobilizers in Charlotte County. In fact, several businesses kept showing up all week and I was blown away. Crews Bank & Trust, Shepherd Insurance, HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital, Centennial Bank, among a few of them. Each event, there were smiles and offers of help. Honorable mention going to two hard-working teens that assisted us, Maddie and Austyn.

Can you see it? Mobilizing the power of our community is made possible through you, our most valuable asset. To learn more about UWCC, visit

Note, for those wanting to support our mission with their donations, the perfect opportunity is coming up on April 9-10, a 24-hour online matching Giving Challenge.

For more information about United Way of Charlotte County’s mission:  Mobilizing the power of our community to break the cycle of poverty, please contact Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director. She can be reached at


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