Debbie Mason: A campaign's powerful message

Photo: United Way of North Central Florida

Photo: United Way of North Central Florida

We're proud to work with United Way of North Central Florida through our Invested program and our team's personal involvement with the organization. Recently, Front Street Managing Director Nick Banks was appointed Chair of the Development Committee of the United Way, and we are looking forward to continuing our relationship with them. In this editorial, United Way of North Central Florida President and CEO Debbie Mason does a great job explaining what makes United Way such an amazing organization.

Editorial by Debbie Mason | The Gainesville Sun

The theme of this year's United Way campaign, the Power of One, focuses on the difference one human being can make in our community.

Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and committed citizens can change the world.” With this quote in mind, the Power of One campaign was born.

As a community, we work as one with the power of partnerships. United Way is blessed to have more than 11,000 donors who contribute to the areas of education, income and health each year. Yet, with an estimated 148,000 people in Alachua County's workforce, imagine what we could do to prepare children to enter school ready to learn through Success By Six, feed homebound seniors, provide safe and educational after-school enrichment, and more. Add the more than 45,000 people working in the five neighboring counties and you can visualize the potential of the Power of One.

Even if one person gives $2 to $5 a week, that's $104 to $260 a year. Magnify this number by how many people have the ability to give and what you get is a staggering amount of money that could make a considerable difference in assisting people living in poverty in our community.

There are three things that make United Way the best investment people can make. United Way is efficient. With an overhead that is far lower than the 25 percent to 33 percent allowed by Charity Navigator and GuideStar, United Way is able to put funds back where they came from ­— the local community. United Way is effective in the use of grants. After bringing in more than $800,000 in grants from outside our community over the past two years, United Way has been able to broaden services provided to at-risk students in grades K-12.

Finally, United Way is expansive. With every $1 that is donated, United Way creates $3 of total impact by mobilizing its vital resources. By simply opening your doors to United Way, the gift of hope is possible for everyone in our community. Every dollar counts.

If you are a small business owner, retiree or individual contributor, United Way makes it simple to donate. Also, United Way works with companies of all sizes to run a workplace campaign.

Change starts with you. Be the one who makes a difference in your community today by helping others in need.

Please call 352-331-2800 or visit for more information.

Debbie Mason is president and CEO of the United Way of North Central Florida


Virginia MacKoul

Virginia is a graduate from the University of Florida's College of Design Construction and Planning with a degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment, and a minor in Urban Regional Planning. Virginia joined the Front Street team in 2011, as an intern. Upon graduation, Virginia joined the Front Street team full-time as the Director of Client Services. Ms. MacKoul’s addition furthers Front Street’s continued growth and expansion within Gainesville and other North Central Florida markets. She was promoted to Director of Marketing in 2014 and now manages the firm’s team of interns and oversees all marketing and branding activity. Virginia was born in Boston and moved to Lee County, Florida in 1997. Virginia graduated her high school's International Baccalaureate program and started at the University of Florida with a focus on Architecture. Virginia shares Front Street's passion of giving back to the community and those in need. Virginia's hobbies include photography, cooking, football, movies, music, and spending time with her dog, Brinkley.

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