Want to Help Those in Need After Hurricane Irma? CEO Pat Geraghty Shares How You Can.

Posted on Sep 13th 2017 by Florida Blue

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We sat down with our CEO Pat Geraghty to talk about the First Coast Relief Fund and why it was important that Florida Blue partner with organizations in the community to aid Irma recovery efforts.

Q:  Pat, as the chair of the board of trustees of the United Way of Northeast Florida, can you tell us about the First Coast Relief Fund?

Pat:  The mission of the United Way of Northeast Florida is to help solve our community’s toughest challenges and there’s no doubt that Hurricane Irma delivered just such a challenge right to our doorstep.  The First Coast Relief Fund was created to aid with Hurricane Matthew. It also established a permanent disaster relief fund for our community. And in less than a year later, our community’s need for this support is even greater than when it was created.

Q:  So, now that we know a little bit more about how the fund was started, what makes it different?

Pat:  What sets this fund apart from others is that it is a true strategic collaboration among leading philanthropic and nonprofit organizations in our community:

  • United Way of Northeast Florida;
  • United Way of St. Johns County;
  • The Community Federation of Northeast Florida;
  • The Jessie Ball duPont Fund; and
  • The Jewish Federation of Jacksonville.

Together, these organizations demonstrate that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And our community, and the people who need our support the most, are the better for it.

It is important to note that 100 percent of all financial gifts go to the relief effort and any unspent funds are used to maintain the permanent disaster fund.

Q:  We know that the First Coast Relief Fund has already made emergency grants to certain organizations, can you elaborate?

Pat:  Yes, the First Coast Relief Fund has already started to answer the needs of he community. Fund will make emergency grants of $100,000 each to the American Red Cross Northeast Florida Chapter and to The Salvation Army of Northeast Florida to help these organizations respond to our region's unprecedented needs following the hurricane. These grants are an initial, immediate response to address urgent needs.

The team is working with many other health and human service organizations to assess other immediate needs and will distribute funds quickly to where they are needed the most.

Q:  That is great to hear Pat, how is Florida Blue helping support the First Coast Relief Fund and recovery efforts across the state?

Pat: As CEO of Florida Blue, I am also very proud to say that our company will contribute a significant amount to the fund, as part of a statewide pledge of $1 million that we announced earlier this week to support relief and recovery efforts across Florida in the wake of Irma.

While we know that Floridians are incredibly resilient, we also know that our neighbors will need help to recover and rebuild. Our entire Florida Blue family, driven by our mission, stands ready to do its part.

Q:  We know that Floridians have faced challenges before with many other natural disasters and they have heeded the call, what would you like others to do?

Pat: I ask – actually, I challenge – my fellow corporate leaders to join us, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and our other generous contributors, to help us amplify the power of this incredible collaboration.

Nonprofit organizations serving individuals in need can go online now and apply for funding at First Coast Relief Fund.

Individuals in need of assistance or organizations who would like to learn more about the fund can also dial 2-1-1 from any phone.

Q:  As our state comes together after such a catastrophic event, do you have anything else you would like to add?

Pat: Our community is counting on us. Please consider making a contribution to the First Coast Relief Fund and other credible disaster relief organizations, because together we can help in rebuild shattered lives and communities. 

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