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United Way, Collier Schools get donation from United Arab Emirates

UAE gives $2.7 million for Irma relief

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As part of its commitment to help communities in Florida recover from Hurricane Irma, officials from the United Arab Emirates, ​The United Way of Collier County, ​Collier County Public Schools and Grace Place for Children and Families announced the disbursement of $2.7 million in funds to help rehabilitate and improve areas affected by Hurricane Irma.

“The UAE is excited to be working with the United Way and Collier County to directly help families in this community,” said Dana Al Marashi, Head of Heritage and Social Affairs at the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC. “This is what friends do for each other in times of need. As a friend of the United States, as a friend of the residents of Florida, and now as a friend of people across Collier County, the UAE is delighted to be able to help in some small way.”

The United Way of Collier County will oversee, manage and distribute the grant to CCPS and Grace Place for Children and Families. Each recipient will put the money towards continuing Irma relief programming and assistance, including projects that assist the most affected members of the community and help them become more economically stable in the long term.

“We are honored to work Dana and the Embassy as a trusted partner”, said Steve Sanderson, President & CEO of The United Way of Collier County. “This donation is truly transformative and game changing providing immediate and longer-term relief for thousands of asset limited hard working families still plagued by this devastating hurricane.”

After Hurricane Irma hit Collier County, it left significant damage to the technological infrastructure in many schools across the county. $1 million of the donation is going directly to the school district so they can overcome the debilitating effects of the hurricane and provide students in Immokalee and Everglades City with internet access for the upcoming school year.

“Connection to the Internet and digital resources are important educational advantages and can provide equity to all students,” said Greg Turchetta, head of communications for Collier Schools. “For these children, access helps to ensure academic growth and access beyond their own communities and will broaden their world academically, personally and socially.”

In addition to funding for the United Way and CCPS, over $1 million of the grant has been awarded to Grace Place for Children and Families, which provided relief to the Golden Gate community after the hurricane. The grant will help restore the organization’s playgrounds, hard court and soccer field, and improve its technology infrastructure and food pantry. The funds will also help with needed repairs to 30 homes of disadvantaged families throughout the Golden Gate community that were damaged by Hurricane Irma.

“Grace Place has become a home away from home to many of our students and families,” said Mario Valle, Board Chair of Grace Place for Children and Families. “Despite the many obstacles our organization faced after the hurricane, the Grace Place campus was widely recognized as the primary relief center for families in Golden Gate.

This isn’t the first time UAE has offered relief aid to communities recovering from natural disasters. They also offered their resources during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and Sandy in 2012, while also helping out Joplin, Missouri, after the community was devastated by one of the largest tornadoes ever recorded in the U.S.

The UAE is a small nation along the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula, and is best known for its oil reserves and for major cities Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the latter of which is home to Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.


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