A New Newsletter

A Welcome Letter from our President & CEO, Berneice Cox


I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year!  By now, we are settling into our new year and have resolved to either keep, or as it happens in some cases, postpone our New Year’s resolutions. But one New Year’s resolution that we are not postponing is our new newsletter which I am happy to present to you: United Way THIS WEEK.

We will keep you updated on the important work we are doing every day in and for our community providing impactful stories where we are making a difference and introducing the members of our community who are committed to our mission including Board members, Contributors, Volunteers, and Community Leaders, and Staff.

In my role as President and CEO of The United Way of the Big Bend, I’ve had the opportunity to see first-hand the challenges facing so many of our neighbors, and I am inspired every day by how our community responds to these challenges.   We are excited and optimistic that our investment in time and resources to help our neighbors will continue to provide a bright light to those in our community who need it most.

There is a unique power in community and when we believe that change can occur, we unite together to chip away at those problems that seemed too big to solve.  We are stalwart in our resolve to continue to do the work that needs to be done so that we not only survive through these unprecedented times, but that we will come out of it in a better place.

Because, Together We Do More.


Meet our Chairman of the Board,
Dr. Jim Murdaugh


Dr. Murdaugh is a long serving member of our Board of Directors and has served in various roles and on numerous committees over the years.  For the past ten months, Dr. Murdaugh has been serving as our Chairman of the Board of Directors, and we had a chance to catch up with Dr. Murdaugh and find out why United Way of the Big Bend is important to him.

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

A         Involvement with United Way of the Big Bend is an opportunity to step out of my day-to-day responsibilities so that I can devote time and attention
to issues that impact our entire community and those surrounding us.  It is a chance to make a measurable difference in people’s lives that no other
organization can afford me. 

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

A         United Way is a trusted partner in addressing issues affecting us all, using the financial resources people entrust us with to focus on program
investments that matter.

Q        Why are you involved with the United Way?

A         I am involved because the United Way has proven its impact.

Q        Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

A         I find everyone I choose to have dinner with to be interesting.

Q        What is your favorite book?

A         While I have read many, I continue to be drawn back to Jim Collins and Good to Great because of the simplicity and power of what he has to say.

Thank you for your time and service, Dr. Murdaugh!


Our actions reflect our core beliefs that it’s not acceptable to ignore homeless families with children. That thousands of elderly shut-ins who don’t have access to nutritious meals must be fed and cared for. That children in grade school who have never even owned a toothbrush can no longer go unserved. That the importance of reading and nutritious meals must be the rule, not the exception.

We embrace those who go to sleep at night knowing that tomorrow brings another day of struggle. Another day praying their car works, that their children won’t need to stay home sick or that they will find a way to have a meal before bed. And for those who are a missed paycheck away from misery. For all of them, we are here.

We invest our time and resources in our neighbors who will never see the face of the person who gave the dollars that saved them. They won’t see the check, they will only see the meal. They won’t see the giving heart, they will only know that someone, somewhere cared enough to alter their course.

There is so much today that seems out of our control. So many problems appear too big to solve. At UWBB we see our world in a different light. By helping one person at a time…one child who will read better and increase their odds for a brighter future…one single mother getting job training to increase her opportunities…one elderly neighbor with a full cupboard…we begin to see change…step by step…from a commitment by deliberate hearts.

There is a unique power in community and when we believe that change can occur, we unite together to chip away at those problems that seemed too big to solve.

We’ve worked to make the methods of giving easy with a simple online visit. But we never confuse the simplicity of giving with the power of the gift. Please help us by making your contribution today!


We are here every day doing the important work of putting faces on our neighbors who struggle to be seen. And with your help, they will know that someone they may never see, made their lives better.



Berneice Cox
President and CEO



Sara Dow

Please join us in welcoming our new Impact Strategies Director, Sara Dow.  Sara comes to
us with significant experience in education,
most recently as a Math teacher in a local
school district.

Additionally, she has worked with young children in pre-K and in
after school programs. She also has worked extensively with
volunteers for both school and community projects; this experience will
be invaluable for working with volunteers in our VITA, ReadingPals and MathPals programs.

She is well on her way to setting up VITA program in underserved areas. Welcome to the team, Sara!

Kelsi Hartsfield

Please join us in welcoming our new Special Events and Affinity Group Coordinator, Kelsi Hartsfield.  Kelsi has a strong background in event planning with a degree in Strategic Communications from Flagler College.

In Kelsi’s position with UWBB, she oversees the Student United Way at local colleges and high schools.  Student United Way is one of our three Affinity Groups (Women United, Emerging Leaders, and Student United Way).

Kelsi enjoys working with local students who have a passion for bettering our community where members plan and participate in FUNdraising events raising critical funds for those in need and learning to give back to the communities in which they learn and live.

READ UNITED – Coming Soon to a school near you!

Mark your calendars for February 28 – March 4, 2022.  The Read UNITED initiative provides volunteers an opportunity to share the love of reading with children in our community.

We are proud to partner with first grade classrooms at Title I schools across the Big Bend, resulting in countless smiles and widespread inspiration for reading. Each participating classroom will receive a set of books thanks to our Read UNITED presenting sponsor.  Please follow this link to register as a volunteer and for more information about this wonderful event: https://uwbb.org/readunited/

December 14th, 2021 was a very special day in the life of an excited new homeowner
and mother of two.

It was the ultimate day preceded by months of hard work and planning to arrive at this special day.  December 14th was Dedication Day when the happy new homeowner was surrounded by family and friends and the faces of those who shared in her excitement and the joyous occasion as one of our neighbors was in their new home for the holidays and beyond.

Home for the holidays is where we all hope we can be and because of our partnership with Habitat for Humanity, the United Way of the Big Bend (UWBB) shared in the joy & excitement of seeing a family in their new forever home, just in time for Christmas.

Funding from UWBB helps Habitat for Humanity to continue to build homes for families in need like the excited new homeowner and mother of two who now realizes her dream of home ownership, and this family of three has now begun making memories in their forever home.

This particular home funded by UWBB is yet another example of the Habitat for Humanity “Women Build” project.  An additional UWBB funded program partner, Second Harvest of the Big Bend stocked the pantry in this new family home with the official launch of their “Kick-Start Kits.”

“Holidays are family time. But for many, the holidays are a harsh reminder of their struggle to be safe, warm and nurtured. One family at a time, United Way of the Big Bend is working hard to open the doors to a joyful holiday season,” said Berneice Cox, UWBB President and CEO.

We at United Way of the Big Bend are happy for the whole family and their exciting new journey into home ownership.  We wish them many more Happy Holidays and happy memories in their new, forever home, and look forward to contributing to more homes and happy families in 2022

Our local Student United Way at FSU is currently collecting NEW items for our UWBB funded program partner, Refuge House.

If you would like to contribute, please bring a NEW blanket, socks, twin-size bedding, or coat/sweater to our local United Way of the Big Bend office between 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM, Monday through Friday, before March 2nd.  For more information, please contact Kelsi at kelsi@uwbb.org.  We appreciate your help & support of Student United Way and victims of domestic violence.

Student United Way is a United Way of the Big Bend Affinity Group in which local middle, high school, and college students give back to our community through education, fundraising, and service.


February 28 – March 4


Shop & Stroll

March 24