News from the Cape and Islands United Way

July 2019

A Message From Our Chairman

It's the time of year when we are enjoying the best that Cape Cod has to offer. Summer is our season – and a time when many of us come back to the Cape and Islands. It’s amazing how our attitude changes as we drive over the bridge, knowing we are home and in our happy place. Whether this is your permanent home or your summer residence, it’s a magical place. How fortunate we are.

Just like many other communities, the Cape & Islands have its challenges; many are less fortunate and need our help. Help finding affordable housing, achieving financial stability, providing children with a strong foundation and help sustaining strong physical and mental health. Thankfully, they have you, our Founders.

We rely on you as the cornerstone of individual giving; your gifts account for 35% of our fundraising goals! This assures that we can fund almost 40 of our nonprofit partners who support the needs of our community and make Cape Cod and the Islands stronger. Your gifts create an impact by making life better for everyone.

So, thank you. Thank you for all you’ve done and thank you for your continued support. Without you, we could not succeed.


Best wishes for a wonderful summer.


Steve Cundall, Chair, Leadership Giving

Pam and Steve Cundall at the 21st anniversary of Best Night

Best Night Shines Bright

“It’s magical” is how one person described this year’s annual Best Night of the Year gala hosted by the Cape and Islands United Way on June 30 at Willowbend in Mashpee.

The evening featured fellowship, fundraising and a bit of fun thrown in. Our garden party theme was a huge hit –  with attendees who were incredibly generous in their support of our mission and partnerships in the community. This year’s event was one of the most successful in the 21-year history of Best Night – raising about $220,000, with proceeds going to support the annual Community Impact grants.

A special thank you to all of our sponsors, supporters and donors for making this such a memorable event. 


Click on the button below see more photos from our event, and please mark you calendars for our next Best Night on June 28, 2020. Details to follow.

Jeff and Nancy Bilezikian at Best Night 21

Make a Statement at Power of the Purse

A woman’s handbag can make a big impact. It can be a style statement, a practical tote for life’s necessities, a proud symbol of success, a catchall so she is always prepared.

At Power of the Purse, the purse is a metaphor for strength. 

Join the incredible women who will come together to encourage, enlighten and engage women, children and families in our community for the second annual Power of the Purse. This social and fundraising event is September 25th at the Hyannisport Club, hosted by Women United, an affinity group of the Cape and Islands United Way.


We invite you to join the fun and entertainment by bidding on some very special purses, bags, and accessories. 

Power of the Purse – inaugural event in 2018

Meet our VISTA: Emily Simons

Emily, originally from Pennsylvania, joined the Cape and Islands United Way as an Americorps VISTA last Fall. She builds organizational capacity and impact by documenting local needs, researching potential solutions, and creating the infrastructure to measure and report outcomes. Emily is a graduate from Chatham University with a BA in Policy Studies. 

Looking back on her 10 months, Emily reflected:


“I could not have expected the immense personal and professional growth I experienced through my work at Cape and Islands United Way. After graduating from college in Pittsburgh, I wanted to use my political science and economics background to serve a community through AmeriCorps. Suddenly I was living in a place I had never even visited, building new relationships every day, and becoming deeply invested in community needs. Joining the Cape and Islands United Way team gave me a new understanding of how nonprofits work to alleviate poverty and how my skills fit into this work.” 

“Through my time here, I know the Cape and Islands’ unique characteristics make the work of United Way increasingly important for all residents. I take pride in knowing that through my community needs analysis, United Way will be able to serve the community more efficiently and effectively. Our wide viewpoint and knowledge of the community allows us to work on the root of complex issues, such as affordable housing or healthy aging supports. While my service term ends here, I will never forget my time on Cape Cod and the dedicated team at United Way who tirelessly works to improve life for all residents of the Cape and Islands.”

Emily Simons at the Cape and Islands United Way office

Announcing Our 2019-2020 Community Impact Partners

With the generous support of our Founders and community, the Cape and Islands United Way in May awarded 32 local nonprofit partnerships for 2019-2020.


The awards were presented at our annual grants reception, this year held on May 14 at CapeSpace in Hyannis. Close to $500,000 in grants were awarded to make 35 critical programs possible in our four focus areas: education, financial stability, health and housing. In addition, we have a fifth community impact team dedicated to Martha's Vineyard.


The grant review process allows us to study the needs and identify strategies that will affect lasting change. In addition to the community impact grants, four awards were presented and the efforts of the many donors and volunteers were recognized. 

Click the button below to see the complete list of causes and organizations we partner with, thanks to YOUR support, including the volunteers and community leaders recognized for their contributions.

2019-2020 Community Impact Partners, Housing

Founders’ Reception: August 15

We hope to have the pleasure of your company at a summertime reception with fellow Founders to mix and mingle.



Thursday, August 15


The Gazebo at the Club at New Seabury 

95 Shore Drive West, Mashpee

Hosted by

Jack and Cathy Brennan & Lisa and Doug Errico


Hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and beer will be provided.


Please RSVP to Silvi Johnson by Aug. 10

or 508-775-4746 ext. 301

The Gazebo at New Seabury

Bilezikian recognized for her contributions

We are delighted to announce that Doreen Bilezikian will be recognized at the Power of the Purse event as honorary chair.


The annual event each year will now recognize a woman of influence and impact in our community as honorary chair. As a business women, wife, mother, grandmother, and philanthropist, Doreen embodies everything Women United stands for, noted Women United co-chairs Chris Eosco and Pam Cundall.

Doreen, who with her late husband Chuck, founded the Christmas Tree Shops in 1970, a brand that grew to 23 retail locations by 2003, the year the Bilezikian family sold the chain to Bed, Bath and Beyond. Soon after that sale, Doreen and Chuck – who had been very active in civic and philanthropic endeavors on the Cape, created the Bilezikian Family Foundation to pursue philanthropic efforts. 

“We are delighted to recognize and honor Doreen’s invaluable contributions on so many levels,” said Eosco and Cundall.

Doreen Bilezikian, humbly accepting the praise of the crowd at Best Night 21

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: Food4Kids

Just as some of us are readying ourselves for trips to the beach, the Food4Kids program has completed training its nearly 100 volunteers who will prepare and deliver daily breakfasts, lunches and snacks to locations all over the Lower and Outer Cape. 

Thanks to the amazing volunteers and staff at Food4Kids, families in need living in the eight towns from Harwich to Provincetown can know for sure that their children can have access to healthy meals daily over the nine weeks of the summer. 

The Church of the Holy Spirit in Orleans is partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture to sponsor this program. They serve free breakfasts, lunches, and snacks every day where children gather in each town--recreation programs sponsored by each town, childcare programs, and library programs. In 2018, Food4Kids served over 27,500 meals at 14 different sites.

While the program receives some federal funding, as much as 30 percent of the costs are not reimbursed. That’s where the grant from the Cape and Islands United Way comes in. During the summer weeks, Food 4 Kids serves about 500 children and teens.

On Cape Cod, nearly 40 percent of children are eligible for receive free or reduced lunch during the school year.  Yet, prior to Food4Kids, there was no organized way for those same children to receive meals during the summer. Food4Kids is a classic example of a local community identifying a need, coming together with year round and summer residents to make sure that need is met. 

Food4Kids Volunteer in the kitchen


1600 Falmouth Road, Unit 25
P.O. Box 367

Centerville, MA 02632

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Need help and don’t know where to turn? 

A partner of the Cape and Islands United Way, Mass 2-1-1 is here to answer your calls 24/7. They are a human services help hotline that will direct you to the services in your area that are appropriate for your needs. Call Now: Dial 2-1-1