United Way Celebrates Community Leaders and Volunteers

United Way Celebrates Community Leaders and Volunteers

United Way of Indian River County welcomed 150 community leaders, business owners, nonprofit executives, and friendly faces at their annual Community Leaders Breakfast on Thursday, October 20th, at Quail Valley. The event was once again sponsored graciously by Florida Power and Light Company with special guest speaker David Hall, GRI, AHWD, and Board Member of Florida Housing Finance Corporation.

The event started with an emotional ‘letter from ALICE’ video that brought tears to the room. Nearly 60 percent of the community is in the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) population and cannot afford to live where they work.

“We know it’s bold to discuss the complex problem surrounding affordable housing,” said Meredith Egan, United Way of Indian River County CEO. “Housing is, by far, the topic that our community considers most important. We need to build and leverage strategic partnerships to work together and help solve the complex problems facing our community.”

David Hall, Associate Broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, is familiar with nonprofits and works with families advocating for programs and services to help children and families improve their quality of life. Joining the event from the Board of the Florida Housing Finance Corporation and the Florida Housing Coalition, Mr. Hall navigated the audience through legislation at the state level and innovation across the state.

Those who pay more than 30% of their gross income for housing costs – including utilities are cost-burdened. Hall notes that Florida Housing has financed 22 affordable housing developments in Indian River County, providing more than 2,400 active units for families, seniors, and special needs individuals. Additionally, the Florida Legislature has appropriated $100 million to establish the Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program, making homeownership affordable for eligible potential homebuyers.

Jeff Petersen, Board Chair, presented the annual Richardson Spirit of Indian River County Awards, honoring companies, agencies, and volunteers who give their time, talent, and resources to improve the community.

The Agency Excellence Award was presented to the Children’s Home Society of Florida. This recognition is bestowed upon a local agency that has made a distinct and apparent impact on the people it serves. Their work as the lead agency of the Community Partnership School at Dodgertown Elementary meets the needs of the students and their families to remove barriers toward academic and life success.  And as a result, student participation in academic tutoring and enrichment services increased by 300%, with over 18,200 cumulative hours of supplemental support.

The second Richardson Spirit Award of Special Recognition was presented to Nick LoPresti of LoPresti Productions for his behind-the-scenes creative, story-telling support and many valuable contributions.

The next award was presented to workplace partner Cleveland Clinic Indian River. Their team has been impacting the community with over 32 years of continuous giving to United Way. Most recently, they sponsored the annual Sawbones vs. Jawbones softball game and installed a Born Learning Trail – with the Little Free Library coming soon.

A final award, the Ralph T. King Award, was presented to Margo Lind – former Board Treasurer. The prestigious lifetime service award was created in honor of its namesake, Ralph T. King. He dedicated much of his time and passion serving as board member of United Way of Indian River County. Lind has been a fierce champion of the community and played an instrumental part during a time of transition, and during the largest financial undertaking the organization has experienced through the management of millions of Federal CARES dollars. Lind continues her role as a fiscally responsible overseer of the United Way Foundation.

“Together, we can activate the caring power of our community and change lives,” said Jeff Petersen, Board Chair. “Each of you are champions, game changers, and heroes – together, we can write a better future for Indian River County.”

The last time the event was held in person was in 2019, and in 2021, the event was attended virtually.

View more 2022 Community Leaders Breakfast photos and the Letter from ALICE video at UnitedWayIRC.org.

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