It seems this past week that everyone has been looking for ways to help support Newtown. Initially, it was prayers and teddy bears. On social media, many have embraced #20Acts and #26Acts of kindness. Funds were established and donations were made.
For me, I couldn’t figure it out what to do. I was—and am—heartbroken. Like so many people in our state, in our nation and around the world, I can’t help but hurt for these families and for this town. I wanted to do something, but I didn’t feel I had anything meaningful to offer. So I stayed quiet—which, for those who know me, you will know this is totally uncharacteristic—and watched, read and listened to far too much news.
Then, Tuesday, I learned that United Way of Western Connecticut, which serves Newtown and the surrounding area, needed some marketing and communications assistance. So I jumped in the car, with the blessing of my colleagues at Middlesex United Way, and drove to United Way of Western Connecticut’s Danbury office.
You may have seen in the news that United Way of Western Connecticut has teamed up with the Savings Bank of Newtown to start the Sandy Hook School Support Fund, a fund that will be used to meet the needs of the Newtown community. Because United Way of Western Connecticut has become the face of this fund, they have become a go-to in the community. Many of their staff members haven’t stopped working since December 14, working through the weekend and late into the nights as calls come in from—literally—around the world. The outpouring of love and generosity we have seen on the news is incredible, but to see it in person is something else.
Our United Way colleagues have received phone calls from Seattle and emails from Kuwait. To know that our service men and women in Kuwait, as they face spending the holidays overseas, are thinking of Newtown is simply incredible. In just four days, they raised $1.35 million—and it’s still pouring in.
As their United Way colleague, I am proud to be part of a network that steps up in times of need, and I was honored work with the staff at United Way of Western Connecticut for a day. I was there maybe 10 minutes before they handed me a green and white ribbon and told me, “You’re one of us.”
Thank you to United Way of Western Connecticut for what you are doing for your community, and for giving me a way to help. Thank you to all of the United Ways that support their communities year round. And thank you to everyone who supports our work. That’s what it means to LIVE UNITED.