United Way Suncoast intensifies Ian recovery effort

United Way Suncoast has initiated a new $500,000 mid- and long-term recovery effort for those most impacted by Hurricane Ian in its five-county footprint and will pair the aid with a “Make It A Million” matching campaign aimed at strengthening all its programs.

The aid will engage more than 20 agencies and focus on five specific areas: funding navigators; filling economic gaps for individuals and families; assisting quality childcare centers with storm recovery; supporting mental health agencies and granting programmatic dollars to nonprofits. United Way Suncoast determined these needs by relying on information from strategic community partners and observations from its own team members who have helped deliver emergency relief in hard-hit areas such as DeSoto County and Myakka City. Both communities suffered historic inland flooding and wind-related property damage.

“Leading community efforts in times of crisis is critical to long term recovery,” United Way Suncoast CEO Jessica Muroff said. “In the immediate aftermath of Ian, we supported emergency relief efforts in our region and in Charlotte, Lee, and Collier counties. Now we are engaging mid- and long-term recovery strategies with our trusted network of nonprofit agencies.”

Navigators Expand Scope

Funding navigators represents an extension of United Way Suncoast’s successful eviction mitigation approach. Working with partners such as All Faiths Food Bank, Catholic Charities, Gulfcoast Legal Services and the Women’s Resource Center, navigators have guided community members through complex application forms for emergency rental assistance. Now the navigators will expand their scope and assist those seeking Federal Emergency Management Administration hurricane relief while sustaining a focus on housing needs.

United Way Suncoast will provide support to families and individuals needing assistance with insurance deductibles and other financial gaps impeding their efforts to recover and rebuild. Working with FEMA, the Small Business Administration, insurance companies and other foundations, United Way Suncoast will ensure the dollars have a maximum impact. It’ll also partner with Habitat for Humanity of DeSoto to assist with home repairs.

Emphasis On Early Learning

The nonprofit’s United We Learn initiative focuses specifically on early learning, and there’s a clear need to help quality childcare centers that suffered structural and internal damage. United Way Suncoast also will work with Meals on Wheels Plus Manatee to provide weekend backpacks for select elementary school students.

Many early learning educators, as well as hurricane victims, possess a need for counseling in Ian’s aftermath. United Way Suncoast will work with Charlotte Behavioral Health and other agencies to provide support at centers and FEMA sites.

Grant support will come from the emergency relief fund United Way Suncoast launched immediately after Ian struck Florida. The fund already has collected more than $150,000. While the nonprofit is elevating its disaster recovery efforts, helping community members deal with life’s daily storms remains a priority.

Make It Mean Something

That’s why United Way Suncoast is asking donors to match the $500,000 investment starting on Giving Tuesday (Nov. 29) and continuing through the holidays. The “Make It A Million” Campaign will allow the nonprofit to bolster Ian relief and strengthen its existing efforts, including support for those impacted by the housing crisis. For more information, visit unitedwaysuncoast.org.

“My father often ends our conversations with a simple acronym: MIMS. Make It Mean Something,” Muroff said. I’m reaching out to all of our donors and supporters to do the same. Make United Way Suncoast’s sterling efforts mean more.”

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