A Message from President & CEO, Berneice Cox

The United Way of the Big Bend has an 80-year commitment to caring. We have an unrelenting desire to help make the lives of people who live here better. We unite people from across the region knowing that together we can do more. During this season of giving, please join me in providing a ray of hope for those who need it most. The needs have never been greater and your commitment to assisting has never been more valued.

I sometimes reflect on my background and remember being a single mom worrying about shelter and food. Yet those memories pale in comparison to the families in our very own community and what they are experiencing now.  The needs are heartbreaking and the opportunity to provide assistance and hope has never been greater.

Even before the coronavirus, more than 54 percent of our neighbors were not earning enough to meet basic needs. Today, we see first-hand local families that have come to rely upon food donations to keep their children from going to bed hungry. We see increases in families needing stable housing and we have even more homebound seniors needing daily meals and wellness checks. We see children slipping behind in their learning and a sad divide between those with resources and those without. These needs are what motivate me, and all the members of the United Way family, to reach out to you today to ask if you can help by giving to our annual campaign

At the United Way, our services include health and mental health, as we see families unable to find affordable health care and mental health resources.  And still, there are so many unmet needs in every one of our priority outcome areas, from housing to early learning, from health and mental health to skills development and serving as a safety net for families and seniors.

When you contribute to the United Way of the Big Bend’s annual campaign, you are assured that your contribution is invested in local programs that tackle the most pressing challenges in our community. We track the work and outcomes of our project partners to ensure the highest performance and measurements are achieved. And when you give to the United Way, it allows many of our funded program partners to be able to draw down matching dollars through federal and state matching programs.

We make it as easy as possible for you to help others, with options including clicking on the button below, payroll deduction through your work, or using our new text to give option. With the text option, simply provide the name of your county by texting “LeonCounty” or “MadisonCounty,” for example, to 44321. Within seconds you’ll receive a secure link and will also receive a tax receipt for your records after donating.

The level of needs we are experiencing now from families, children, and seniors across the region impel me to ask you to join or increase your support for the United Way of the Big Bend’s Annual Campaign.

Wishing you a very happy holiday season!

In hope and gratitude,



Sixth Annual Women’s Leadership Breakfast

A Resounding Success!

The sixth annual Women’s Leadership Breakfast was held on Wednesday, November 16th at 8:30 AM at the Dunlap Champions Club at Doak Campbell Stadium on the campus of Florida State University.  A big thank you to our co-chairs, Sally Bradshaw and Kim Campo, and Chair of Women United, Angie Sipple.

When guests entered the third-floor ballroom on November 16th, they felt as if they were entering a private living room for a candid conversation with four hundred and seventy-five of their closest friends.  The inviting atmosphere was conducive to the relaxed conversation between Sally Bradshaw, UWBB Board member and Women’s Leadership Breakfast event co-chair, and guest speaker, Lauren Bush Lauren.  Sally set the stage by first asking our guest what it is like to have the same first and last name.  Lauren, smiling and at ease, responded “travelling is always confusing.”  Lauren explained that it is through her travels that she became aware of the hunger challenges facing people throughout the world.  It was this awareness that became the catalyst for Lauren founding and becoming the Chief Brand Officer for FEED, a social business and impact-driven lifestyle brand whose mission is to “create good products that help FEED the world.”  Lauren further explained that the company marries her love of fashion with sustainability by creating products that help provide meals with every purchase.  When purchased, a FEED bag provides meals for one child in a school for one year.  Since its founding in 2007, FEED has provided more than 120 million meals with partners worldwide.

When asked what one takeaway for attendees of the Women Leadership Breakfast would be, Lauren said that everyone has the power to make a difference.  “There are days when I feel like the issue of hunger and world hunger is just insurmountable and overwhelming, and then I am reminded that one meal can change someone’s day and change someone’s life,” she said.

Co-Chair of the Women’s Leadership Breakfast, Sally Bradshaw, expressed that “Lauren’s tremendous commitment to service and giving back to others made her uniquely qualified to speak to the challenges we face at home and the opportunities United Way has to move the needle in the Big Bend.”

The breakfast also provided an opportunity to learn about Women United, an initiative of the United Way of the Big Bend that addresses the region’s most critical needs with the aim to lift women, children, and families out of poverty.  “Lauren highlighted the needs of communities globally and ways to make a difference locally both as individuals and as a group,” said Angie Sipple, Women United Chair.

A shared commitment and mission of Women United and United Way of the Big Bend that they work to fulfill every day, and a reminder that we have it within our power to put words into actions.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of the annual Women United’s Women’s Leadership Breakfast, email us at unitedway@uwbb.org.   If you are interested in joining Women United, please visit us at:  https://uwbb.org/womenunited/


Chairman of the United Way Board of Directors, Erik Davis, congratulates Chair-Elect, Alan Keesee, on his recent promotion to CEO of HCA Florida Ocala Hospital which includes responsibility for the HCA Florida West Marion Hospital campus.  Alan will soon be leaving the Big Bend region heading to central Florida for his new role.  He joined our Board in 2018 and has served in various roles including Chair-Elect, Power 5, Resource Development Committee Chair, Audit Committee Chair, and Finance Committee member.  One of his favorite roles and the one closest to his heart has been as a Reading Pals mentor.  Alan, we wish you and your family the best of luck, and thank you for your support of United Way of the Big Bend.

We’re currently recruiting volunteers to participate in our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance initiative which provides income tax return preparation and filing assistance at various locations beginning in January.  If you are interested in helping, please contact us at:  communityimpact@uwbb.org or (850) 673-9311.

Angie Sipple, Chair of Women United, an Affinity Group of United Way of the Big Bend

Please meet Angie Sipple.  Angie is a boundless ball of energy and is currently serving in her second year at Chair of United Way of the Big Bend’s Affinity Group, Women United.  We had a chance to catch up with Angie between meetings for the Women’s Leadership Breakfast event which was held recently on November 16th.


Q: What does your involvement with United Way of the Big Bend & Women United mean to you?

A:  As someone who was born and raised in Tallahassee and has been back in the community for 25 years as an adult, my involvement with United Way has made me feel more connected to the Tallahassee community than anything I have ever been involved with.  I have been so impressed with the amazing work that is being done by the United Way and their many program partners and the difference they have made throughout the Tallahassee community in so many important areas.  

Q: What do you think the value of United Way is in our community?

A: The value is in the name “United”.  The amount of people and organizations that the United Way actually “unites” is awe-inspiring.  By uniting these organizations and working to help everyone work better together, the United Way is able to make a significant difference throughout the city of Tallahassee in so many people’s lives.

Q: Why are you involved with the Women United?

A: I became aware and involved with Women United through several women that I was friends with and had worked with on other non-profit endeavors.  They invited me to get involved and thought I would learn a lot and enjoy my experience.  I knew these women well, had a lot of respect for them and knew they would not steer me wrong.  And they did not!  I have really enjoyed my time with Women United and have met a lot of really fabulous Tallahassee women.

Q: What project are you working on with Women United that you are you most excited about right now?

A: We just wrapped it up for this year, but the Women’s Leadership Breakfast!  We had Lauren Bush Lauren who spoke and the more I learned about her, the more excited I was to hear about her life journey and entrepreneurial journey via FEED Inc., and how she was able to build a successful company that has contributed over 120 million school lunches to date!

Q: For what or who in your life do you feel most grateful?

A: My parents.  They were such positive role models to me in so many ways, especially in understanding how important it is to give back to the community you are part of to the best of your ability.  And my husband and four children as well, who have taught me so much over the years and do a great job of keeping it real, keeping me on my toes, supporting me and always making me laugh.

Q: If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

A: To be less reactionary and more thoughtful before I speak.

Q: Favorite season of the year?

A: Fall.  Growing up with a birthday and Halloween both in October was pretty great and always brings fond memories of this time of year.  Not to mention the somewhat cooler weather!



During holiday season, we are thankful for all that we have but we realize that many of our neighbors are not as fortunate. Together, we’ve accomplished incredible feats this year, providing thousands of individuals and families with food, rental assistance, job training, trips to & funding assistance for healthcare services, cleanings & sealants for children’s teeth, reading mentors & books, income tax preparation & filing assistance, and much more along the way. But our work doesn’t end at the end of the calendar year.  We hope you will make a donation today that will help support the work that we do well into the next year because, Together, WE DO MORE!




When it became clear that our friends and neighbors in the Big Bend region would miss the brunt of Hurricane Ian’s fury, United Way of the Big Bend began mobilizing forces and joining efforts with United Way’s across Florida to begin collecting disaster relief supplies for those who were not so lucky this time.

By the time the amount of damage and destruction came into focus, United Way of the Big Bend had already sent out the call for help.

Over the month following Hurricane’s Ian path of destruction across Florida, United Way of the Big Bend collected canned goods, diapers, cleaning supplies, soap, paper goods, school supplies, pet food, water and so much more.  In communication with United Way of Lee, Hendry, and Glades, we knew exactly which items were needed most steering our collection efforts for items that could provide the most relief to victims of Hurricane Ian.

We have received generous donations from Capital Health Plan, Allstate, Ernst & Young, Florida Bar, Distinguished Women of Harley Davidson, and numerous individual donors who just wanted to give back and pay it forward.  A special thanks is extended to the Ernst & Young teams that came to our office to sort, inventory, and box the supplies in one afternoon.  The Teamsters Union stepped up in a big way providing both the 48-foot-long tractor trailer truck and the driver to deliver the supplies to United Way in Ft. Myers on Thursday, December 15th.

Their help was so appreciated as was the help and participation of everyone who made a contribution to the collection efforts.

“When you live in Florida, you realize it may be just a matter of ‘when’ as we all remember the impact Hurricane Michael had in recent memory on our area of North Florida, but we help each other and rise to the occasion when nature spreads her destruction through a swath of our state.  It’s what we do.  We help one another in times of need; we come together, “said Berneice Cox, President and CEO of United Way of the Big Bend.

On Wednesday, September 7th, we enthusiastically launched our new podcast series WHY.  New episodes are available now on all podcast platforms including https://spotifyanchor-web.app.link/e/VxFnjKqncvb or https://uwbb.org/podcast/

Beginning with the last issue of United Way THIS WEEK, we began a new segment called “In Your Words” where we will share with you what our community stakeholders including donors, volunteers, program partners, and program recipients are saying about us, United Way of the Big Bend. At our Annual Community Meeting on September 14th, we placed cards on the tables so guests could give us their personal WHY’s. We are happy to share these with you so that you, too, can enjoy the Why’s of our fellow community members – anonymously, of course. So, we can know WHY, Together We Are Doing More!

FSU Joins ResearchMatch

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, FSU recently joined a growing list of universities and healthcare institutions across the nation to provide opportunities for community members to participate in research for studies not just at FSU but also across the country.

Florida State University invites the community to engage in the research process as its scientists look to better understand complicated diseases and other medical conditions.

The institution has just joined ResearchMatch (https://www.researchmatch.org/ ), a nonprofit program funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where people – healthy or not – can sign up to participate in health-related research.

“Our university is invested in this community in so many ways, so joining ResearchMatch to expand our outreach through research makes sense,” said Mark Riley, FSU’s interim vice president for research. “This is taking FSU research to the next level of community-based involvement by giving people greater opportunities to contribute to biomedical discoveries and health care innovation.”

Originally launched in 2009 by Vanderbilt University, the ResearchMatch database has more than 168,000 volunteers who represent various demographic, geographic and health backgrounds. To date, nearly 12,000 researchers have used the site to conduct almost 1,200 studies and publish more than 600 research findings across the country. FSU joins five other Florida universities, plus the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and UF-Scripps Biomedical Research Institute in Jupiter, using ResearchMatch.

Interested volunteers register for free on the secure website, providing contact information and their preferences on types of research. Once registered, volunteers can choose whether to participate when the system emails them information about a specific research project. The volunteer’s information is kept confidential until the volunteer agrees to participate in the study. At that time, the researcher will be provided the volunteer’s contact information.

The types of studies available on ResearchMatch include surveys that a volunteer can complete at home or remotely as well as studies that involve in-person participation with the researcher at the study location, usually on campus or at a nearby health care facility. Studies can cover any range of health conditions, medications or diseases, but all types of volunteers — including healthy participants — are needed.

ResearchMatch allows only studies that have been reviewed and approved by a university or health care facility’s regulatory board, designated to protect the rights and welfare of people participating in research. FSU’s regulatory officials review every study and must approve before FSU researchers can post to ResearchMatch.

For study volunteers, ResearchMatch offers a more streamlined way to find research projects of interest, whether they are at FSU or at a research institution across the state or country. For FSU researchers, the program expands access to volunteers in the community and miles away.

“This is a free resource to connect citizens with scientists in the ongoing quest to advance research discoveries that will improve public health and health care,” Riley said. “You never know what kind of a difference your participation in research could make in someone’s life, whether it’s a complete stranger or someone you love.”

We’ve had a very busy year.  Thank you for joining us!


Please join us in welcoming Clay Tullos and Kristin Olson Talcott to our team!

Raised in neighboring Gadsden County, our new Vice President of Finance & Operations, Clay Tullos, has lived in Tallahassee since 1993.  He has worked in state government and most recently, for local non-profit organizations.  Clay has been married to his best friend, Rhonda, for over thirty years, and has two children: Jessica,29, a pre-k teacher at Chaires, and Brian, 27, an ICU nurse at TMH.  They have two adorable goldendoodles: Louie (a therapy dog for TMH), Minnie, and a grand-dog, Simba.  In his free time, he loves spending time with his wife, kids, and dogs and playing tennis.

Kristin Olson Talcott, our new Resource Development Director, is also excited to be joining our team.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Psychology from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Florida State University.   Her professional career has centered around education. Formerly, she taught at a Title 1 school in Tallahassee and recently served as director of Advent Parish Day School. While at Advent, Kristin spent time cultivating relationships with families and community members as well as engaging in strategic planning for the school.  She is an avid believer in the importance of early childhood education and served on the board of directors for the Early Learning Coalition for the previous six years.  Kristin grew up in Iowa but has been a Florida transplant for the last 15 years.  She has three boys, ages 14, 11, and 8 keep her on her toes attending soccer games, cross country meets, and piano recitals. Besides being a personal chauffeur to her boys, she is an avid reader, a beach lover, and enjoys watching college football with family and friends. Kristin is looking forward to this new adventure with the UWBB and the opportunity to work with an organization that makes such an impact in our community.

Welcome to our team Clay & Kristin!


Women United’s Power of the Purse

February 9, 2023

The Space at Feather Oaks


February 27th – March 3rd, 2023

week-long event in local schools

Emerging Leaders’ Lip Sync Battle

Coming in Spring 2023!

Watch for details on our social channels!

25th Annual Golf Classic

Friday, April 28th, 2023

Southwood Golf Club