If Mary Freitas walked barefoot from The Breakers on April 19, it’s because someone else stepped into her shoes.
That would be Bill Tiefel, who succeeded Freitas as president at the Town of Palm Beach United Way’s 77th Annual Meeting.
“I have big shoes to fill, and I look forward to continuing and building on the accomplishments of past presidents,” said Tiefel, who then praised his predecessor’s service over the past three years of “unforeseen and unpredictable times”.
“She led United Way during the no easy task during the COVID pandemic, and also oversaw United Way’s support for recovery and relief efforts in the Bahamas, and now aid for refugees in Ukraine. “, did he declare.
“She attends every United Way event and is the first to volunteer to sign letters or do any other task that United Way asks her to. She embodies the meaning of service and does so with grace, humility and compassion.
In her last speech as president, Freitas gave full credit to United Way donors.
“Your donations and volunteer involvement have enabled United Way to invest in life-changing programs for dozens of Palm Beach County nonprofits that are making a difference in the lives of thousands of our lesser neighbors. wealthy,” she told the crowd of more than 100 guests.
“It has been a difficult year for so many, but there is hope and promise thanks to your generosity.”
The annual meeting celebrated a successful campaign year and included the announcement of grants, campaign reports, the presentation of the Nettie Finkel Award and the election of new board members.
Campaign General Chair Gail Coniglio announced that the City of Palm Beach United Way has raised $7,339,107 to date, far exceeding its goal of $5.4 million. Campaign Chairs Cara Coniglio McClure (The Islanders), Elizabeth Marshman (Business and Professional), Ann Heathwood (Red Feather), Phyllis and Bill Mack (Alexis de Tocqueville) and Nicola and Jeff Marcus (Alexis de Tocqueville) were recognized for their fundraising efforts on behalf of their respective groups.
“It is through their collective efforts that we have raised the funds needed to address the challenges in our community and provide support to those who need it most,” Coniglio said.
Sean Baker, board member and chief of the Palm Beach Fire Rescue Division, reported on United Way’s annual school supply, toy and food drives, which collectively raised $46,975 in addition to distribute thousands of supplies, gifts and groceries.
Board Vice-Chair Christine Curtis provided an update on United Way’s Ukrainian Refugee Fund, which has raised more than $2 million to support humanitarian relief efforts.
Vita Nova, an organization that helps young people aged 18 to 25 transition from foster care to independent living, has been accepted as a partner organization, making it eligible to apply for funding.
Vita Nova helps young people become independent by providing them with temporary housing and helping them with education, financial support, employment and other services.
Board members also voted to approve $3,500,950 for 77 programs at 41 nonprofits, as recommended by the Allocations Committee.
“Thank you to the 93 members of the Allocations Committee who spent three months doing the hard work necessary to ensure the City of Palm Beach United Way funds are used effectively and efficiently,” said Joyce Reingold, co-chair of the allocation committee.
“Their efforts will help fund programs that will serve more than 300,000 men, women and children in our community,” she said.
Kathleen Waddell, a volunteer at the El Sol Resource Center in Jupiter, received the Nettie Finkle Award for outstanding volunteerism and community service.
Named in honor of the late United Way donor and volunteer who dedicated 75 years to helping those less fortunate, the award honors an individual whose volunteer work embodies the standards set by Finkel.
Waddell has been a volunteer at El Sol since 2016. She has helped prepare meals, write grant applications, help children with homework, teach English lessons for adults, oversee community events, and lead classes on healthy eating habits.
New members joining the board are Wendy Bingham Cox, Ginny Edlavitch, Bill Mack, Michael Pucillo, Farley Rentschler, Laing Rogers and Beth Wilf. All will serve a three-year term as members of the Class of 2025.
The meeting also saw the presentation of a specially commissioned caricature of Freitas portrayed as a superhero.
“All I can say is that this is an incredible organization, run by dedicated staff members, with outstanding leadership, volunteers and donors from an inspiringly generous community. “, she said.
“I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for giving me the opportunity to be a part of all of this.”