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January 2017

The Time Is Now For Community And Service

Dear Friends,
 
We hope the start of the New Year has been a good one for you and your families.
 
The autumn was a busy time for us at UWWC, with new initiatives and resources dedicated to helping paycheck-to-paycheck households move from struggling to stable. In October, our updated statewide ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income, Constrained, Employed) report revealed the gripping reality that now a full 38% of households in our state struggle financially. As a result, we’re working even harder to mobilize and convene community leaders, government, agencies, businesses, volunteers and donors to change underlying conditions and barriers to families’ success.
 
What are we doing to help ALICE on the path to financial stability? Mobile food pantries and grocery trucks on wheels (GROW trucks) are rolling out across Western Connecticut, bringing free, healthy food to ALICE—more than 800 households in just under three months. Financial stability funding to three nonprofit partners has resulted in close to 75 ALICE individuals receiving budget coaching with the goal of improving credit health, achieving a short term financial goal and adhering to a household budget. Our financial literacy programs have grown into a Financial Opportunity Center and we will launch a matching savings program in the coming weeks. Our most recent ALICE community conversations have informed our decisions to invest in early childhood education and develop an enrichment fund for children and youth.
 
To keep up with the needs of our region, United Way is changing the way we work. We’re investing smarter with a more integrated and comprehensive system for serving our communities. We’re embracing innovation to develop solutions that go beyond anything we’ve done in the past. We’re seizing this moment to make ourselves better so we can be even more effective at building a better and stronger community for everyone.
 
You are integral to our success. There is a place for everyone in United Way’s work: volunteer with our exciting initiatives that need your skills; advocate and educate others about the struggles ALICE faces; invest in our community programs to make every household stable, strong and resilient; and share your passion for our enriching work.
 
United Way could not be successful in this important work without the support of our loyal donors and partners, who care so deeply for their communities. We remain ever grateful for your enduring support for this work we are honored to do each day, together.

Kim Morgan

 

 

Regards,
Kim Morgan
Chief Executive Officer
United Way of Western Connecticut

 

 

Holidays in Western CT

The holidays were busy at United Way of Western Connecticut, and we are grateful that we were able to help so many individuals and agencies throughout Western Connecticut because of the generosity of our supporters and partners.

  • The Stuff the Gazebo food drive in partnership with the Woman’s Club of New Milford in November helped provide Thanksgiving meals for 300 families in New Milford.
  • The Youth Volunteers Corps of Western Connecticut organized several projects for the holidays, including organizing holiday care kits for seniors, gift-wrapped packages filled with personal supplies like toothpaste, hand sanitizer and lotions. A total of 100 kits were made to brighten the holidays of seniors in our community. We express our deep thanks to Stanley Engineered Fastening, Trident-ITW, Danbury Public Library, Ventura, Ribeiro & Smith, Meyer Jabara Hotels and Newtown Savings Bank for their support for this project to warm the hearts of seniors this holiday season. YVC also teamed up with Ben’s Lighthouse volunteers to put together “Joy Socks” filled with items that went to the City of Danbury Homeless Shelter.
  • The Giving Fund, our collaboration with The News-Times in Danbury, shared stories of struggling neighbors in need each week from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. The 2016 Giving Fund profiled 36 heartrending stories of struggling individuals and families, and we are pleased to announce that all the cases were fully funded with a total of $82,000 in donations from the Greater Danbury community.
  • New this year, our Boots and Books Drive collected books and boots for area preschoolers-- winter-appropriate footwear to play at school and books to read at home. While initially sought to outfit 30 children from one Head Start classroom, 60 children from the Danbury School Readiness Program received of boots and books! A special thanks to Honda of Danbury, Union Savings Bank, NewOak Capital, Pitney Bowes, Stanley Engineered Fastening and several individual community donors for their support for this new program.
  • In Stamford, we collected PJs and Books for the children and youth of Kids in Crisis. We were thrilled to deliver 130 sets of pajamas and 180 books to Kids in Crisis, and this success could not have been possible without the generosity of corporate partners, including Nestlé Waters NA, Pitney Bowes, Wofsey Rosen Kweskin and Kuriansky, Ashforth, Thomson Reuters and Preferred Brands.
  • At the holidays, we support Santa’s Workshop, a grassroots, volunteer-driven effort that creates a winter wonderland for low-income children from infants to age 12. This year, 400 children were given a special holiday thanks to our caring community. We wanted to extend special thanks to BMO Financial Group, Ventura, Ribeiro & Smith and Newtown Savings Bank for their support for Santa’s Workshop.
  • We also help facilitate a coat drive for Project Connect, a one-day event to connect homeless and at-risk residents to agencies and organizations to help them attain housing stability. We are deeply thankful to Ventura, Ribeiro & Smith, Newtown Savings Bank, Eversource, Honda of Danbury and community members for their generosity in collecting more than 50 adult coats for this special event.

 

 

Addressing Food Security: Mobile Food Pantries and GROW Trucks in Western CT

As part of our work to increase the financial stability of ALICE households living paycheck-to-paycheck, UWWC partnered with Connecticut Food Bank to bring Mobile Food Pantries to the Danbury, New Milford and Stamford communities after other pantries are closed. The food pantries take place between 5:30 and 6:30 pm to allow hard-working ALICE individuals and families to access free, fresh and healthy foods after working hours. Since November, more than 800 households have accessed this free food, freeing up precious household budget funds for other bills and expenses. We are grateful to the dedicated groups of volunteers who have come out to each of the pantry events to provide invaluable support, including volunteers from Union Savings Bank, Deloitte, Genworth, Wofsey, Rosen Kweskin & Kuriansky, LLP, NBC Universal, FamilyWize, CironeFriedberg, Caldwell and Walsh and Northern Trust.

In addition, Connecticut Food Bank works with UWWC to bring the GROW Truck to Danbury, New Milford and Stamford. GROW, or Groceries On Wheels, visits each community every two weeks, offering an educational class on a nutrition or food-budget related topic before allowing each visitor to shop the truck chock full of fresh groceries and sundry items. In the first three months of the GROW truck, 280 families (with 654 children) have participated, completed the educational piece and brought home an average of 70 pounds of food per visit. This food represents an average savings of $170 per household—valuable savings that can be of great use elsewhere in a family’s budget.

UWWC also continues to support two Food Collaboratives, which bring together agencies, businesses and organizational partners who manage food pantries, programs and related support in our communities. We are funding the purchase of refrigeration and freezer units for Collaborative partners to disseminate fresh and frozen food products to individuals and families in need, and programs that provide backpacks full of food for the weekend for low-income children in Danbury and Stamford. Two food guides have been developed and promoted throughout our cities (Danbury, Stamford).

For more information about our food security initiatives, please contact:

Katy Francis (Greater New Milford) at 860-354-8800
Nicole Granskog (Stamford) at 203-883-6034
Caroline LaFleur (Greater Danbury) at 203-297-6307

 

 

Volunteers Needed: VITA

United Way is helping hard-working families put more of their money in their pockets! Volunteers are needed for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program! VITA provides tax return preparation at no cost for families that earn less than $54,000 per year. There are opportunities to serve beyond income tax preparation. YOU can help us make a difference! Increasing the amount of Earned Income Tax Credits and returns while providing a free service to ALICE households has been shown to improve economic security.

There’s still time to volunteer! Learn more

 

 

Danbury residents: Support Complete Streets

The City of Danbury has issued a public notice proposal for a proposed Complete Streets design of Westville and Highland Avenue area in Danbury. Complete Streets provides increased safety for those choosing healthier, active transportation (such as walking and cycling), while raising the community's quality of life by improving its road system.

United Way of Western Connecticut encourages all residents to send an email by January 19 to Danbury’s Director of Finance, David St. Hilaire, to share your support for the benefits of Complete Streets, and encourage the adoption of this concept for this road improvement effort.
>>Learn more

 

 

Stamford Cradle To Career Launched November 10

More than 170 people attended the Stamford Cradle to Career partnership’s Launch Event on Thursday, November 10 at UConn Stamford. The event marked the release of the partnership’s Community Baseline Report and launch of four of the partnership’s Community Action Networks. Keynote speaker Jeff Edmondson, StriveTogether Managing Director, energized attendees with stunning examples of other collecive impact partnerships' successes across the country. The Stamford Cradle to Career cross-sector collaborative partnership is based on the nationally recognized StriveTogether Cradle to Career Framework.
>>Learn more about how you can become involved with Stamford Cradle to Career
>>View photos

 

Notes

  • Stamford Volunteer Day is January 27 at 8:30 am at the Harry Bennett Branch of the Ferguson Library. Register today
  • BoardServe Western CT Board Member Training is February 9. Register today
  • Hometown Heroes is moving…to the autumn! More details to come.
  • Heart of Gold Award Dinner is May 18! More details to come.
  • Our new Annual Report is coming soon.

 

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