Today, UP Orlando (as our clients call us) has earned recognition as the busiest single-site social service agency in the state of Florida, serving an average of 525 individuals each day. In 2015, our campus provided services for 15,267 unduplicated families. 100% of program participants fall at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, and the majority reside in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties.
The original intent of our organization was to help as many people in need as possible from the downtown Orlando area. The effort of our first volunteers was tireless and noble. The support from early donors was essential to making any impact at all. Our volunteers and donors have put a great deal of faith and trust in the leadership and vision of many wonderful men and women such as Scott & Tammi George, Austin and Ginny Hunt, Jeff Johnston, Dave Larue, Tommy Beck, Todd Ehinger, Don Drinkard, Andrae Bailey, David Flynt and many, many more. That faith has been rewarded not just in the hundreds of thousands of families we have served, but in the improvements of our process to do so over the years.
Our purpose has evolved from simply helping others, to measurably lifting families out of poverty for good. This distinction has been driven by our volunteers and donors who want to see more than just inputs and outputs, but rather outcomes…efforts that can show a tangible result. This leadership through vision is more important than all of the cans we’ve distributed or resumes we’ve helped write. However, it is the willingness of so many thousands of volunteers to stock shelves, bag groceries, sweep floors and visit with struggling families that has inspired our volunteer leadership to bold aspirations including ending poverty in our community.
More than 2,000 individuals and families support our cause financially each year. Their average gift is $43, but all gifts—whether $1 or $1 million— are incredibly appreciated. I wish I could call each and every volunteer and donor myself to say thank you. I spend a great deal of time attempting this effort, but we are hopeful that you also see our appreciation in the effort we dedicate on your behalf every day. We still tirelessly help low income families in downtown Orlando; however, we also work to ensure that these same families never need help again. This is entirely due to the commitment of volunteers and donors who have supported this work for so many consecutive years. Thank you for sharing in our mission!