News from the Cape and Islands United Way

October 2019

From the President and CEO

What a pleasure it has been to serve as the President and CEO of the Cape and Islands United Way this past year. On September 24th, I completed my first year on the job and it has been rewarding in ways I could never have imagined.

The impact the Cape and Islands United Way has in our community is critical to many of our nonprofits and those who count on them for services related to healthy living, education, financial stability and housing security. I am truly humbled by the work – and more passionate than ever to lead our efforts so that we can increase our impact and be more of a leader in the Cape and Islands nonprofit sector.

I have had the great pleasure of meeting so many people over the last year, including many of our Founders. I look forward to continuing this journey and am so grateful for the support from all of our Founders and donors. The impact we can have comes from people like you who believe in our mission of improving the lives of those in need in our community. This is not your grandparents United Way. There is so much work to be done, and we as a United Way continue to evolve to meet the challenges we face going forward. A sincere thank you to all our supporters. Your commitment makes a huge difference.

– Mark Skala

Mark with Yarmouth Deputy Chief Steven Xiarhos at the 'Biker for Babies' drop off this spring

Announcing a new grant cycle

The Cape and Islands United Way is committed to improving lives, strengthening communities, and creating lasting change on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. We accomplish this result by partnering with local nonprofit organizations to ensure a robust continuum of services and supports for all residents. 

In 2018, we received nearly 80 Letters of Intent. Thanks to generous supporters like you and other Founders, nearly $500,000 was distributed to 34 nonprofit organizations – in support of 36 programs across Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket in four priority areas: health, education, financial stability, and housing. Grant awards ranged from $5,000 to $25,000.  
For the 2020 grant cycle, our team is excited to announce several critical changes to our process, eligibility and funding cycle. These changes will allow for increased accountability, visibility and deeper partnerships with organizations we work with. These changes are the result of feedback we have heard from partnering non-profits as well as Founders and other supporters.

First, after careful consideration and feedback, the Board of Directors approved a two-year grant funding period. Specifically, this means that organizations applying in the fall of 2019 will be awarded a two-year grant (July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2022).  This multi-year funding will increase focus on outcomes and allow more opportunities for deeper and richer partnerships. Letters of Agreement will be completed annually, and all funding is contingent upon the achievement of anticipated results and the availability of funds.
Two-year funding also provides the opportunity for more real-time reporting on results throughout the grant period. The second major change is a focus on Desired Community Outcomes. Over the past two years, the Cape and Islands United Way has used the Results-Based Accountability Framework to focus on results and impact.  After careful review of this framework, as well as additional work to understand the needs of our community, we established a set of Desired Community Outcomes. Organizations state which outcomes they will achieve to ensure a unified effort in addressing the most critical needs of the community. The Desired Community Outcomes fall under selected strategies of our Results-Based Accountability Framework. This refinement allows a greater focus on targeted outcomes to ensure maximum impact.

We believe you as one of our dedicated Founders will be pleased with these changes. This is about increasing our impact, visibility and collaboration with our community and non-profit partners. We welcome your feedback. 

Our 2019-2020 nonprofit partners in the health category, at our Community Impact reception in May.

Board Chair Todd Machnik and  Immediate Past Chair Donna Morris, with Courtney Story of Mashpee High, who received the United Way Youth Community Service Award.

Power of the Purse makes a statement

The Cape and Islands United Way and its affinity group, Women United, hosted a hugely successful Power of the Purse event on September 25th at the Hyannisport Club. A special thanks to our Founders who were there, and to those who generously donated items for the event. We couldn’t do it without you.

It was a wonderful evening. In its second year, the event more than doubled its gross proceeds from the previous year. The view was incredible, the food was delicious, the bags, totes, purses and packages were drool-worthy. But none could be outdone by the room full of wonderful people who came out to lift up the women and families in our Cape Cod community.


All proceeds from the event will benefit the Cape and Islands United Way’s Community Baby Shower, the Strong from the Start program as well as a new initiative helping young women enrolled at Cape Cod Community College. More on this aspiring program in the coming months…


A special thanks to our generous donors, sponsors and bidders who used the power of their purses for such good: Turtle Rock LLC, Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod, Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston, Cape Cod 5, Just Picked Gifts, Horgan Insurance Agency, Rockland Trust, Bob Norton Realty Group - Kinlin Grover Real Estate, Kilwins Hyannis and Puritan Cape Cod.

Michelle Weber with keynote speaker Anna Rossi

Bilezikian honored for her many contributions

At the Power of the Purse event, we honored Doreen Bilezikian as Honorary Chair for her many contributions to our community.


The longtime Cape Cod businesswoman, community leader and philanthropist was honored with the inaugural Woman of Impact award for her contributions to the Cape Cod community. 


Doreen and her late husband, Charles, turned a one-shop Christmas Tree Shop in 1970 in Yarmouthport into a 23-store chain and well-known brand when they sold it to Bed, Bath and Beyond in 2003.


The Bilezikians raised their family on the Cape, mentored many people in the retail business, and served on numerous committees and boards. They had long been supporters of many causes and when they sold the business, they founded the Bilezikian Family Foundation to further their philanthropy, not only here on Cape Cod but in many other places as well.

“I first met Doreen when I was a young journalist working for the local paper. I can’t remember the particular cause, but I won’t forget the passion, energy and commitment she gave it,” said Mark Skala, president and CEO of the Cape and Islands United Way. “As a business woman, wife, mother, grandmother and philanthropist, Doreen embodies everything Women United stands for – strong, courageous, generous, formidable, humble.”

Doreen with granddaughter Kate Bilezikian

Woman of Impact award, presented to Doreen Bilezikian

Nonprofit Spotlight: Independence House

Independence House, Inc. is our region’s only organization serving the needs of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.  They provide a range of services for women and their children as they recover and heal from trauma.  This year, Independence House celebrates its 40th anniversary.

Mark Skala, CEO of the Cape and Islands United Way, recently had the opportunity to attend a breakfast hosted by Independence House commemorating the survivors of domestic and sexual violence. One of the speakers talked about the importance of finding her voice on her path of recovery. So as we pause during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we remember that through your help and generosity, we can help others find their voices and set them on a path of recovery.

The Cape and Islands United Way has supported the work of Independence House for more than 10 years.  With your support, Independence House can provide much needed services in our community that include counseling, legal assistance, a crisis hotline, and a 24/7 shelter for up to 15 women and their children.  Among their newer programming is assistance across the life span; including services for child victims of violence, a prevention program for teen dating violence and services for seniors. Most recently, Independence House is a recipient of a Community Impact Grant to support the operations of their confidential domestic violence shelter. 

In Massachusetts, in a single day in 2018, 1,795 victims were served by Massachusetts domestic violence programs.  Nationally, domestic violence hotlines receive nearly 21,000 per day and nearly three out of four Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. The services of Independence House are needed in our community and with your partnership, we can keep them available. 

Our next Founders' reception: December 3, 2019

A special thanks to Jack and Cathy Brennan and Doug and Lisa Errico for hosting our most recent Founders' reception on August 15th at the New Seabury Country Club. It was a chance for all to mingle, socialize and learn more about what we are doing at the Cape and Islands United Way.

Please mark your calendars for December 3rd!
You are cordially invited to a private Founders’ reception on Tuesday, December 3rd from 5-6 PM. in the Community Room at Puritan Cape Cod on Main Street, Hyannis. Food and refreshments will be served. This is a wonderful way to congratulate Puritan Clothing and the Penn family on Puritan clothing’s 100th year in business. Throughout these years, the Penns and Puritan Clothing have been long time supporters of the Cape and Islands United Way. Invitations to follow.

Following the reception, Puritan will host a shopping evening from 6-8 PM, in celebration of Giving Tuesday. A portion of sales will benefit the Cape and Islands United Way.

It was a beautiful evening for our Founders' reception this August at New Seabury.


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

Centerville, MA 02632

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