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2011-12 United Way campaign under way in Southwest Florida

By Staff | Oct 26, 2011

More than 700 volunteers and community leaders gathered at the Harborside Event Center Wednesday to celebrate the 2011-12 campaign kick-off of the United Way of Lee, Hendry and Glades. Tom Uhler, United Way campaign chair, and partner in the firm of Uhler and Vertich Financial Planners, encouraged everyone to “Live United” and to give, advocate and volunteer.

“Our United Way has met its fund-raising goals year after year, even during the difficult economic times of the past few years,” Uhler said. “While there are some signs of improvement in the economy, the needs of our neighbors have not lessened. Many individuals and families who have never asked for help in the past are coming to United Way partner agencies or calling United Way 211 due to loss of jobs, and other overwhelming financial or medical issues.

“United Way 211, the help-line for human services, has experienced dramatic increase in the number of calls it receives requesting help with food, counseling, medical care, utilities, and other issues,” he continued. “Before the economic downturn, United Way 211 received an average of 2,500 calls per month. Last month United Way 211 handled more than 4,700 calls for help.

He went on to say, “I am passionate about the United Way and look forward to a successful campaign. With your help, we will meet our campaign goal. With your help, we can change lives. With your help, we can make our community stronger.”

Laurel Smith, United Way pacesetter chair and partner in Gravina, Smith, Matte and Arnold, Public Relations and Marketing, announced that the Pacesetter Companies – those that run their campaigns early to demonstrate United Way support and to encourage others – along with early leadership gifts, have already raised a total of $4.19 million. This represents 52 percent of the goal.

“These results show that our community does ‘Live United’ and supports the ‘Give. Advocate. Volunteer’ theme of this campaign,” said Smith. “Reaching 52 percent of the total goal at this point in the campaign is extraordinary, especially this year. My company supports the United Way, and this community supports the United Way because it’s the most effective way to help our neighbors and strengthen our community.”

All money raised in the United Way campaign stays in the local community to help support the local human service network of partner agencies.

United Way partner agencies like Harry Chapin Food Bank, CCMI, Bonita Springs Assistance Office, Alvin A. Dubin Alzheimer’s Resource Center, Children’s Advo-cacy Center, Boys and Girls Clubs and LARC serve a diverse range of needs in our community. The United Way advances the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for everyone in our community, focusing on education, income, and health, as they are the building blacks for a better quality of life.

In addition to raising funds for human service organizations in the community, the United Way promotes partnerships and collaborations among agencies, helping them to work together focusing on issues and solutions that continue to improve lives.

For more information, call United Way at 239-433-2000 or visit www.unitedwaylee.org