A Lifetime of Service: Bill Wilson, Holland & Knight

Bill Wilson, Partner at Holland & Knight, goes beyond normal standards of dedication. First becoming involved with United Way when he was just 20 years old, Bill views United Way as an essential part of the community and an important part of his own life. Now a major contributor to Heart of Florida United Way’s Investing in Results Council and Board, Bill shares his expertise and experience to help guide United Way’s efforts to make the most impact.

What inspires you to be involved with United Way?

I have been very fortunate in my life and I firmly believe that for those to whom much has been given, much is expected. It is my duty to serve the community and help those who need it.

At the Corporate Leadership Breakfast in September, I had the opportunity to meet a woman named Madelyn who was helped by United Way. Her story was amazing and an incredible example of the kind of work United Way does. Madelyn moved to Orlando from Massachusetts and she really struggled finding a job. Her skills just weren’t translating to a good job here. She enrolled in the United Way-funded Culinary Training program at Second Harvest Food Bank and spent six months learning essential job skills. She now has a great job as a line cook at a popular Italian restaurant. She loves her job and she now has stability. That makes me proud to know I support an organization that helped make that happen.

What is the greatest community need in your opinion?

Our infrastructure is what makes it so difficult for our ALICE—Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed—population. With few affordable housing options and unreliable public transportation, it makes it so much harder to have a good job and earn and steady wage. Without a car, it’s difficult to improve one’s circumstances.

What do you think the business community can do to address this?

It will take the business community to partner with organizations like United Way and local politicians to advocate for change. We need to make access to affordable housing and transportation options a priority to help people get employed and on their feet.

What is one word you would use to sum up United Way’s work?

Opportunity. United Way is the place to connect individuals to new opportunities and personal growth.

What is one thing about United Way you think most people don’t know about?

2-1-1 is still a hidden gem. From serving veterans through Mission United to offering crisis support, 2-1-1 is a major asset to the community. 2-1-1 helps those facing unemployment, medical bills or a unexpected car repair bill and is a key service for Central Florida.