It sounds like a sky-high mission: raising $5.75 million that will help house, feed, educate and protect the young and old across the Space Coast.
What better way for United Way of Brevard to announce those goals and the hope they carry than in an “United We Ignite Change” campaign kickoff at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex?
The 2022 campaign blast-off drew 210 guests Thursday for a night of challenge and compassion, starting with a tour of the new Gateway Deep Space Launch Complex and dinner in the Debus Center.
Most important, guests from Corporations and Nonprofits countywide heard stories about where donor dollars are used as United Way of Brevard marks its 65th anniversary — and that while a $5.75 million goal might sound ambitious, it’s doable and critical.
“It is fitting that we are here at the Space Center, because in 1957, community leaders along with new leadership from our early space program formed and incorporated the United Appeal of Brevard County,” said Rob Rains, United Way president.
“The first campaign was run in 1958 … there were nine funded agencies that first year. Today, again through your donations, we fund 44 partner agencies and over 60 programs.”
And every dollar raised represents more than just money, said Emma Reynolds, director of resource development.
“Every single one of those dollars represents a community that trusts us, a community that believes in us, a community that supports what we do,” Reynolds said.
“Every single one of those dollars holds hope. It’s hope for a better Brevard. It’s another family with enough to eat. It’s another child reading on grade level. Another Veteran off the street and another victim turned Survivor and thriver.”
Father and son Phillip and PJ Hair, who turned to North Brevard Charities for help last year, know about enduring homelessness and hopelessness.
In a video about their move into one of the United Way-supported nonprofit’s affordable housing apartments in Titusville, they shared the little things so many take for granted.
“We can just be around our house, Anytime we want to, because it’s ours,” PJ said.
Father and son then took the stage Briefly to offer their thanks.
For PJ, it’s the privacy of his new bedroom — he puts the emphasis on “my own” — and “being able to do what I like to do at home.”
For Phillip Hair, it’s the stability of home, being able to secure work and return to the security of his own place, rather than one shared with others.
“We’d like to thank each and every one here that’s in this room that donated,” they said. “We’ve never met. We don’t even know who you are. But I want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
Even in a pandemic-challenged year, the 2021 United Way campaign raised $5.6 million.
Jackie Barker of Sky Advertising, 2022 campaign manager, reminded the crowd of what was accomplished with those funds — and what the community impact would have been without that money.
Last year alone, she said, 431,094 people would have gone without basic needs like food, clothing, shelter and protection from abuse.
More:Nonprofits pitch in to tackle hunger across Brevard: Here’s how you can help
Without United Way, 13,553 children who face complex issues wouldn’t have had the opportunity to improve academic success.
“And without United Way 8,226 Seniors and people with Disabilities wouldn’t have been able to maintain their health and well being,” Barker said.
“United Way’s about Neighbors helping neighbors, working together with our 44 partner agencies. We strengthen this community, create a Stronger economy and make Brevard a better place to live. Sometimes all it takes is that little boost of support that launches someone on a new journey like Philip and PJ — and other times they just need to be connected to the resources and the right solutions, solutions that you Accelerate by donating.”
In addition to officially announcing the goal, the program also highlighted special recognition of early summer fundraisers at local companies called Pacesetter Campaigns.
Pacesetters who have committed corporate gifts include: L3Harris, $150,000; Collins, $30,000; Florida Power & Light, $21,000; Wells Fargo, $20.00; Truist, $10,775; Lockheed Martin, $6,000; Jacobs, $5,000; United Launch Alliance, $3,500; and IAP – Ingenuity and Purpose, $1,000.
“The staff who run our programs at the Space Coast Health Foundation are hands on in the community and they see every day the growing needs of individuals — from housing, to health care and, of course, food,” said Wayne Price, employee campaign manager for Space Coast Health Foundation’s 2022 drive.
“We’re confident that United Way of Brevard — and it’s one of the reasons the Space Coast Health Foundation enthusiastically supports the campaign each year — is a good steward of dollars donated by the community and ensuring resources go to the people who need it most in Brevard.”
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Want to help ‘Ignite Change’?
For information on donating to United Way of Brevard’s 2022 campaign: Online, uwbrevard.org; phone, 321-631-2740; email, [email protected]