Community unites in United Way campaign at Community Leaders’ Breakfast

United Way of Martin County officially launched its 2021-22 annual campaign at the Community Leaders’ Breakfast held at Willoughby Golf Club on Oct. 21. Energy and appreciation filled the room at the gathering, where United Way thanked the dozens of organizations and thousands of individuals who raise millions of dollars year after year to help Martin County residents meet basic needs and build better lives for themselves and their families.

This year, Bryan Garner, Communications Director for FPL/Nextera Energy, and Kate Cotner, Principal Attorney for FPL, are leading the fundraising effort for the United Way of Martin County as the organization enters its 50th anniversary of caring for our community. The campaign co-chairs are joined by a committee of six, including Chief Deputy John Budensiek with Martin County Sheriff’s Office; Marshall Critchfield with FPL; Ian Cotner with AT&T; Scott Samples with Cleveland Clinic Martin Health; Sue Whittington with Morgan Stanley; and Tom Whittington with Manatee Pocket Yacht Sales. 

The campaign committee is a group of volunteers who call on corporate and business leaders to encourage them to support United Way through financial contributions as well as the invaluable gift of their time and talents.
“We are meeting weekly to reach out to prospective businesses, share the mission of the United Way, and encourage them to partner with us, either through payroll deductions, a contribution, sponsorship, or volunteerism. There are many ways to give and all of them make a difference,” Garner said.

“It will take all of us working together to meet the growing needs of our community and continue the important work United Way and our partner agencies are doing to touch the lives of so many families here in Martin County.”
The mission of United Way is to increase self-sufficiency for every single person in Martin County through resources and programs that promote health, education and income stability. Last year, United Way invested $1.87 million in local programs in Martin County to help families get on solid financial ground, students get off to a good start in school, and at-risk youth learn vocational and technical skills, and more. 

During the breakfast program, United Way announced Martin County’s Top 10 Most Generous Workplaces and Communities. These are the Top 10 of the nearly 200 companies and communities whose employees and residents gave philanthropic contributions to and through United Way of Martin County during the previous fiscal year.

Publix Supermarkets again reigns as the number one most generous workplace and Sailfish Point as the most generous community in Martin County.  

The following awards were presented to organizations and individuals that went above and beyond to support United Way of Martin County’s efforts by donating their time, talent and treasure:

  • The Spirit Award was presented to Seacoast Bank for their outstanding commitment and support for our community through their involvement with United Way.
  • The Collaborator of the Year award was presented to House of Hope and Salvation Army of Martin, St. Lucie and Okeechobee Counties for their partnership in the United We Care program where they served as front-line responders in times of need.
  • The Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Jane Cebelak, a former United Way board member and retired nurse who dedicated countless nights and weekends volunteering at COVID-19 vaccine clinics.
  • The Live United Award was presented to the Martin County Board of County Commissioners for their ongoing partnership that dates back to 1972 when United Way of Martin County was founded.
  • The Unsung Hero Award was presented to Debbie Connolly for making significant contributions to our community when no one is looking, regardless of getting credit for the work. Debbie served as the site coordinator for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program that provides free tax assistance to low-income households. 

For more information about United Way of Martin County visit

About United Way of Martin County
United Way of Martin County’s mission is to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of our community. Since 1972, the United Way has been working to create long-term social change and provide support to Martin County residents by investing in programs that strive to: enhance healthy living, improve education, and support financial stability.