It has been one year since the United Way of Collier and the Keys (UWCK) was formed through the merger of the United Way of the Florida Keys and the United Way of Collier County in April of 2020. Working with local companies, area not-for-profits, governments at the city, county, and federal level, and a large network of generous private donors, the organization has helped to distribute nearly $10 million in assistance to individuals and charitable organizations in its first year.
As a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic and recession, housing and food insecurity became acute problems for South Florida communities. UWCK responded by assisting the City of Key West and Collier County with the distribution of approximately $7.5 million in housing aid and more than $500,000 in food assistance. As unemployment peaked during Monroe County’s lockdown, United Way of Collier and the Keys’ food assistance fed nearly 10 percent of the county’s population. In Collier County, housing assistance kept more than a thousand people in their homes.
United Way of Collier and the Keys is a key player in disaster relief, continuing to assist survivors until they are made whole. Over the past year, a grant from Volunteer Florida enabled UWCK to repair or rebuild more than fifty homes that were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Irma. Since Hurricane Irma made landfall in 2017, UWCK has helped to distribute more than $19 million in disaster relief in Collier and Monroe Counties.
Despite facing a challenging fundraising landscape, United Way of Collier and the Keys made good on its commitment to provide more than $1.2 million in funding to forty-two local not-for-profit agencies for programs enhancing the education, health, and financial stability of residents. Targeting individuals and families living paycheck-to-paycheck, the programs were chosen through a rigorous review process conducted by United Way volunteers in both counties.
“Given the excellent work our board, staff, and partners have done this year, I’m very excited about the future of our United Way. It was inspiring to see everyone come together to serve our communities during this difficult time,” says Steven Sanderson, President and CEO of United Way of Collier and the Keys.