Palm Beach United Way Hurricane Ian fund tops $1M; nets $125,000 in new matching grants

With the total raised for Hurricane Ian victims through its relief fund now at more than $1 million, the Town of Palm Beach United Way on Wednesday announced that it had received three new matching grants totaling $125,000.

Palm Beach couples Michele and Howard Kessler, Joanie and Murray Goodman, and Gail and Alfred Engelberg are the latest residents to offer matching grants. The Kesslers and the Goodmans will each match donations dollar for dollar up to $50,000; and the Engelbergs will similarly match contributions up to $25,000.

The United Way started its Hurricane Ian Recovery Fund on Sept. 29 to help the residents on Florida's Gulf Coast who were affected by Ian, which made landfall Sept. 28 near Cayo Costa as a strong Category 4 storm.

Michele and Howard Kessler
Michele and Howard Kessler

“If we can inspire more people to continue giving, we’re honored to offer a matching gift,” Michele Kessler said in a statement. “As our west coast neighbors continue to rebuild, so too do we hope our neighbors here in Palm Beach continue to give generously.”

Previous coverage: Town of Palm Beach United Way Ian fund nears $1 million mark; new matching grants announced

Related coverage: American Humane rescues horses, other farm animals affected by Hurricane Ian

More than one month after Ian hit the state, several communities are still waiting for working electricity and water, the United Way said in a release, and hundreds of families are still in shelters.

Murray and Joanie Goodman
Murray and Joanie Goodman

“We keep thinking how fortunate we were that this storm did not hit the Palm Beach area,” Joanie and Murray Goodman said in their statement. “We can imagine the devastation it would have caused. That’s why we want to do our part to help our neighbors across the state rebuild their homes and businesses.”

As of Wednesday, the Hurricane Ian Recovery Fund had raised more than $1 million after receiving 14 previous matching grants  — all of which were met — from the Cathleen McFarlane Foundation, Sandy and George Garfunkel, Irwin and Ginny Edlavitch, Dorothy and Sidney Kohl, Elizabeth and Jerome Levy, Danielle Moore, Claudia and Nelson Peltz, Laura and Isaac Perlmutter, Joe and Susan Plumeri, Barbara and Richard Rothschild, John and Jana Scarpa, Judy and Bob Snyder, Susan and Dom Telesco, and Norma and Bill Tiefel.

“When we started the hurricane fund in late September, we had no idea we would receive this much support,” Richard Rothschild, who is the United Way campaign chairman, said in a statement. He and his wife, Barbara, gave an initial matching gift of $25,000 to kick start the fund. “We offer our sincerest gratitude to all who have contributed.”

The Town of Palm Beach United Way has distributed at total of $700,000 to the following organizations with teams in the Gulf Coast: American Red Cross ($50,000), Americares ($75,000), Convoy of Hope ($100,000), Global Empowerment Mission ($205,000), NAACP Collier County ($20,000), Project HOPE ($75,000), Samaritan’s Purse ($100,000) and World Central Kitchen ($75,000).

Al and Gail Engelberg
Al and Gail Engelberg

“We’re impressed by the aid the Town of Palm Beach United Way has been able to help fund thus far, and we look forward to helping these devastated communities continue the rebuilding process,” Gail Engelberg said in a statement.

Some organizations have transitioned from providing immediate aid, such as food and water, to focusing on rebuilding efforts, the United Way said, citing Global Empowerment Mission. Its president, Michael Capponi, said the organization recently signed a two-year lease for distribution space in Fort Myers, which he said will play an integral role in long-term recovery.

“It is only with help from organizations like Town of Palm Beach United Way that we can make so much impact in affected communities,” Capponi said.

To donate, visit, call 561-655-1919 or send a check payable to Town of Palm Beach United Way with “Hurricane Ian” in the memo and mail to 44 Cocoanut Row, Suite M201, Palm Beach, FL 33480.

Carol Rose is a journalist at the Palm Beach Daily News, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach her at Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Daily News: Palm Beach United Way Hurricane Ian fund tops $1M; nets 3 new grants