Thanks to the selfless and generous citizens who live and work in Brevard, our county is a wonderful place to live and raise our families.
Many of our citizens generously give their time and money to nonprofit organizations, whose mission it is to help families, women, children and seniors in need.
It could be argued that the economy of Florida's Space Coast was hit harder than most. But that hasn't stopped our citizens from helping. Our hard times have proven that the more in need our friends and neighbors are, the more Brevard's citizens step up to help.
Unfortunately, there are some fraudulent charities out there that hope to pull on your heartstrings and take advantage of our tough times. That creates a chilling effect on many who would like to donate, but are unsure of whom to trust.
That's where United Way of Brevard steps in. By contributing to our United Way, you are contributing to a variety of trusted and proven nonprofit agencies right here in Brevard County. The United Way has done the screening for you and they ensure your hard earned money goes where it is needed most in our community.
From United Way agencies like Serene Harbor, which provides emergency shelter to women and children who have been victimized by domestic violence, to Crosswinds Youth Services, which provides a children's shelter and family services, to the Boys & Girls Clubs, which provides loving and caring environments for at-risk children, Brevard's United Way Agencies do it all.
United Way of Brevard is preparing to kick off their 2012 campaign. This year's United Way campaign is being led by Adrian Lafitte of Lockheed Martin. Adrian and his team have set an ambitious, but necessary goal of raising $6.3 million.
We in the Sheriff's Office are proud to support our United Way. We have just learned that the Brevard County Sheriff's Office is being recognized as the top performing Sheriff's Office in the State for United Way giving, bringing in $137,548.
Why do we do it? Because we see first-hand the needs that exist in the community, and we have faith in our United Way to put our hard-earned dollars where they are needed most.
We see how dedicated and loving volunteers at shelters and community programs stretch pennies and work miracles every day to strengthen families, protect seniors, be a voice for our children and fight hunger.
Within the past 16 years, we have seen our local United Way become one of the finest and highly respected United Way organizations in the country.
They have extremely low overhead and spend only 9 cents of every dollar to operate the organization, an outstanding ratio by any measure. They are able to keep their costs low because they use an army of unpaid volunteers, which prevents the need to hire additional employees.
These United Way volunteers are extremely successful professionals from various organizations and corporations throughout Brevard. Not only do they help raise contributions, they also determine where the money is needed most and that every dollar is spent appropriately.
If you are not involved with the United Way, please consider becoming part of this year's United Way effort. Please consider participating in your United Way campaign at your workplace. Employees giving just a dollar or two a paycheck through payroll deduction can add up to a big impact.
The United Way also offers estate planning services. With a little planning and a minor investment today, caring citizens can leave a big gift to the United Way in the future.
To get a workplace campaign started or to find out more about estate planning, call Susan McGrath at the United Way at (321) 631-2740.
If you are retired or cannot participate in a workplace campaign, but would like to make a tax-deductible donation, you can do so by making a check out to the "United Way of Brevard" and mailing it to United Way of Brevard, 937 Dixon Blvd., Cocoa, FL., 32922.
Please consider becoming part of this year's United Way campaign. We need you.
People ask me all of the time how they can make a difference in our community. One of the best ways we can do that is to give generously to our local United Way.
Jack Parker is the sheriff of Brevard County.