Middlesex United Way: Advocates, donors, volunteers crucial to mission

MIDDLETOWN — Middlesex United Way is always proud to support programs and initiatives led by our nonprofit partners across Middlesex County. During the COVID-19 crisis, our partners have been on the front lines serving the community — their resiliency in the face of such challenges has been remarkable.
Over the past several months, the Middlesex United Way has been assessing the pandemic’s impact on financial resources and needs while also wrestling with how that affects our support of community work.
The Board of Directors and volunteers insisted we meet the moment by shifting our funding priorities to include a greater emphasis on basic needs and emergency services. COVID-19 has only intensified the needs for food, mental health services, affordable housing, and sexual assault crisis services.
For the next fiscal year, we will invest over $500,000 in programs and initiatives in Middlesex County. This funding includes support to 36 organizations and 42 programs. We are hopeful to work with partners in new and innovative ways that deepens our relationship in the community.
None of these investments would be possible without the support of the donors and local employers who support this great work. We would also like to thank the dedicated teams of volunteers that help make funding decisions by meticulously evaluating all of the funded programs and virtually meeting with our partners. We rely significantly on the efforts of these teams and are grateful for their commitment to making our community better.
Middlesex United Way works in the areas of education, youth development, wellness, housing and financial stability because we want to live in a community where students have a quality education, families are economically stable, people are healthy and avoid risky behaviors, and everyone has access to safe and affordable housing.
In the area of education, our school readiness initiative is working with school systems, child care providers, and parents throughout Middlesex County to prepare young children to become school ready while identifying and addressing social and emotional issues. We’re also supporting parent education and family literacy through programs like the Middletown Even Start Family Learning Program and Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore.
In the area of financial stability, we work with partners who provide basic needs, including St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen and Amazing Grace Food Pantry and Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries, as well as employment training supports and services.
In the area of youth development, we partner with Youth and Family Service Bureaus throughout Middlesex County to implement the Healthy Communities-Healthy Youth assets model in their towns. The approach increases young people’s participation in their local communities and reduces high-risk behaviors, like the use of drugs and alcohol.
We are also proud to support youth development programs led by the Middlesex YMCA, Oddfellows Playhouse, the Girl Scouts of Connecticut, and the Connecticut Rivers Council.
In terms of wellness, we support partners that provide critical mental health services, substance abuse services, sexual assault crisis services, and programs that support adults with disabilities.
In the area of housing, we support emergency shelter and supportive housing, as well as homelessness prevention and affordable housing advocacy efforts. We are actively involved in the Coalition on Housing & Homelessness, which works to prevent and end homelessness, and are proud to support organizations like Middlesex Habitat for Humanity and the HOPE Partnership.
For a full list of partners in each focus area, visit middlesexunitedway.org/impact.
Thank you to all our partners, advocates, donors and volunteers.
Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of the Middlesex United Way in Middletown.