TAMPA – More than 350 people gathered Tuesday at Armature Works to celebrate United Way Suncoast and champion the theme of its breakfast, R.I.S.E. And Shine.
R.I.S.E. speaks to United Way Suncoast’s ambitious goal to Reach, Invest, Support and Empower ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) families and community members. Publix, our cornerstone sponsor, and our gold sponsors, TECO, PNC Bank and Raymond James Financial, helped provide the platform for a successful presentation.
A Great Start
Veronica Cintron, the vice president of communications for Tampa International Airport, started the program as emcee and Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services CEO Sandra Braham delivered a moving invocation. The event’s speakers – board chair Dave Pizzo, United Way Worldwide CEO and president Angela Williams, and United Way Suncoast CEO Jessica Muroff all underscored the importance of United Way Suncoast’s vital mission.
United Way Suncoast postponed R.I.S.E. and Shine, originally scheduled for Sept. 28, because of Hurricane Ian. Its ability to restore the event’s intent and energy reflects the organization’s resiliency, a resiliency we have infused into our work and hopefully into our community members.
Williams Set The Tone
Having spent more than 30 years as a nonprofit leader, Williams traces her embrace of service and global citizenship to her childhood. The daughter of civil rights activists, Williams intoned the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and a quote from his final book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community.
“I think that’s a very prescient question even today in 2023, chaos or community,” Williams said. “We continue to see so many external factors that are impacting individuals, families and communities.
“We continue to hear on the news not just good news but a lot of bad news. We continue to feel at this moment in time that there’s so much swirling around us that sometimes we can feel that we are living in times that are out of control.”
Williams challenged the audience to heed King’s words and find a way to live together in peace. King termed it a “great world house” of all races and religions. She said the notion of this inherited world house still resonates today.
“We have to continue to look at our neighbors and understand what is the plight of our neighbor, what are they feeling and experiencing, how am I connected to my neighbor and how can I work together with my neighbor.”
United We Are Unstoppable
Muroff built on Williams’ themes of collective impact and systemic challenge. At the R.I.S.E. and Shine Breakfast, she highlighted United Way Suncoast’s work over the last two years, including bringing corporate donors and individual philanthropists together to address the pandemic, respond to the housing crisis, elevate early learning and lead on disaster recovery. She calls this work the Power of Unity.
“We have that unique strength of bringing and convening organizations, businesses and individuals together so we can lift up our community,” Muroff said. “Individually, we are strong, but connected in teamwork and collaboration, we are unstoppable.
“And, we have the strength of history,” Muroff said. “Our vantage point of serving this region for nearly 100 years as a community problem solver gives us a distinct advantage for success. But we’re also continually evolving, making sure we are meeting those ever-changing needs of the neighborhoods and the individuals we continue to serve.”
Muroff noted that when a community need becomes pervasive, United Way Suncoast meets it. When a vital opportunity begs for existence, United Way creates it. This can-do spirit permeated the breakfast, and sent everyone into the day with the opportunity to lend their time, talent and treasure to support the mission going forward. Click here to see a replay of the breakfast, including a new video.