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Facelift and renovation allows United Way to expand service

By Staff | Nov 3, 2009

The Cape Coral United Way House, a neighborhood resource center, was recently renovated by the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association to provide an enhancement to the building, which resulted in additional health and human service agencies.
Cliff Smith, president of the United Way, said the Cape Coral United Way House has been in operation for two years, but recently received a pretty dramatic expansion in services for the community to utilize, along with a facelift for the building.
“Even in challenging times, this industry gives back to the community over and over again,” said Becky Swift, president of CCCIA in a prepared statement. “We were happy to help.”
The CCCIA chose to improve the building’s appearance so people would feel positive about visiting the United Way House for assistance.
“The fact that the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association chose to repair, paint and landscape the Cape building is a wonderful example of community support and incredibly generous in light of the challenges facing the construction industry in our communities,” Kevin Lewis, director of the Southwest Florida Addiction Services, said in a prepared statement.
Balfour Beatty Construction, Service Painting Florida, Color Wheel Paint, H & E Equipment Services, King Landscaping and SignMart contributed to the renovation.
Smith said more than a thousand people use the Cape Coral United Way House for assistance each month.
“Instead of asking the client to travel to an office that may not be conveniently located for a single service, we are bringing services to the communities such as Cape Coral, Lehigh and Bonita Springs,” she wrote. “The Cape Coral United Way House is a great example of how collaboration among human service organizations can improve service to our friends and neighbors in need.”
Such programs as the SWFAS, Community Cooperative Ministries, Lee Mental Health, Consumer Credit Counseling Service, Literacy Volunteers of Lee County, NAMI and the Alvin A. Dubin Alzheimer’s Center operate within the Cape Coral United Way House.
Meetings are also held at the facility by such groups like AA, Al-Anon, Ala-Teen and NA.
SWFAS, which runs the Cape Coral United Way House, works with United Way to bring more social services into the community. It makes space available for social agencies who may not be able to afford a full-time position in Cape Coral.
Lewis said the biggest change for the house was when the United Way identified expanding access for services for the community last year.
“It really represents a step forward for Cape Coral, our largest city in Lee County,” Lewis said about the recent renovations and expansion of the house.
He said there was a tremendous demand from the community and not a lot of accessibility for services. The expansion provides individuals with the opportunity to be directed toward someone who can help them with their situation.
Lewis said about six weeks ago, the house had 80 individuals utilizing the services per day, which was extremely overwhelming.
Sarah Owen, executive director of CCMI, said her company partners with United Way, along with SWFAS, to bring comprehensive services to individuals and families in Cape Coral.
She said CCMI provides an emergency food pantry, case management services and referral services and a service that provides folks with the ability to register for food stamps online at the Cape Coral United Way House.
“It is a one-stop shop that provides services for Cape Coral residents that are in need,” Owens said.
“We encourage any Cape Coral residents who may be struggling, to contact us and reach out for the assistance they may need,” she said.
The United Way of Lee, Hendry and Glades counties was established in 1957.
Since multiple services are offered through the United Way House, many individuals who are seeking information and services may receive more in-depth help, which ultimately may help in keeping them out of more severe crisis down the road.
United Way currently has 10 resource centers in Lee, Hendry and Glades counties, which are designed to provide help to individuals who are experiencing short-term problems.
Although the centers deal with short-term problems, they also tackle more complex problems that may have began the crisis in the first place.
For information, call 433-2000 or visit: www.unitedwaylee.org.