Middlesex United Way to invest $500,000 in programs over coming year

MIDDLETOWN — The 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.
During the height of the pandemic, we continued our emphasis on basic needs and emergency services given the devastating and far-reaching impact of COVID. In all, 50 percent of our funding was dedicated to basic needs due to the increased demand for food, mental health services, affordable housing, and sexual assault crisis services.
We will invest over $500,000 in programs and initiatives in Middlesex County for the next fiscal year. This funding includes support to 36 organizations and 42 programs. This funding will also help support 2-1-1, a service proven to be a vital lifeline during the COVID-19 crisis.
None of these investments would be possible without the support of the donors and local employers who support our work. We would also like to thank the dedicated teams of volunteers who help make funding decisions by meticulously evaluating all 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.
The United Way works in education, health, housing, financial stability, and racial equity and inclusion.
In education, we will continue to fund a school readiness initiative through early childhood councils across Middlesex County. 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 also fund adult and family literacy programs, which help adults reach both professional and personal goals.
Financial stability
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. We will continue to fund food pantries and workforce training and development. This year we will also be supporting St. Vincent de Paul's backpack program, which started in the spring and provides nutritious weekend meals for 200 elementary school students.
Young people
In youth development, we are proud to continue our partnerships with the Middlesex YMCA, Oddfellows Playhouse and Girl Scouts of Connecticut.
These partners provide high-quality youth development programs to some of our most vulnerable children and families in the community. Middlesex United Ways funds allow youth to participate in these programs, regardless of financial situation. This year, we took a different approach to our long-standing partnership with Youth Service Bureaus and decided to pool resources to have a greater impact in communities.
We are investing nearly $27,000 in racial equity and inclusion training, strategic planning, and community workshops for all 11 youth service bureaus in Middlesex County. Our goal is to reach 300 staff and community partners and at least 300 Middlesex County residents while we work on dismantling systemic racism within organizations, communities and at the state level.
In terms of wellness, our partners play a crucial role in supporting the mental health and wellness of our community. Our funds support various health and wellness needs, including substance abuse treatment, behavioral health and prenatal programs. Our funds also support services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
In housing, we will continue to fund emergency housing, case management, and homeless prevention efforts. We are actively involved in the Coalition on Housing & Homelessness, which works to prevent and end homelessness. We are proud to support organizations like Middlesex Habitat for Humanity and the HOPE Partnership.
Two of our partners completed major building projects this past year despite COVID. HOPE Partnership completed The Lofts at Spencer's Corner, a 17-unit development. Middlesex Habitat for Humanity completed a single-family house in Westbrook and is making progress on the veterans’ build in Middlefield.
We have so much gratitude and appreciation for our much deserving partners, and while we cannot highlight all their achievements, we want to recognize at least those who help make our community so special:
Child & Family Agency, Clinton ECC, Coalition on Housing & Homelessness, Columbus House/Supportive Housing, Cromwell ECC, Durham-Middlefield ECC (new), East Haddam ECC, East Hampton ECC, Gilead, Girl Scouts of Connecticut, Haddam-Killingworth ECC, HOPE, Kuhn Employment Opportunities, Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore, MARC, Middlesex County Youth Service Bureaus, Middlesex Habitat for Humanity, Middlesex Health, Middletown Adult Education, Middlesex YMCA, Oddfellows, Rushford/Early Intervention, St. Vincent de Paul, The Connection, Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries, Tri-Town ECC, Westbrook ECC, and Women & Families Center.
None of this is possible without the time and commitment of our dedicated volunteers that we are so fortunate to have:
Jon Brink, Jim Crawford, Sheila Daniels, Dawn Dubay, Coleen Duffy, Sandy Durosier, Becky Finnerty, Ed Ford, Jr., Bob Fusari, Mark Gonsalves, Shioban Graig Everett Heintz, Bill Holder, Barbara Holloman, Lakisha Hyatt, Leandra Hylton, Vicki Iaccarino, Ellen Kessner, Rob Lloyd, Donna Marino, Alan Marshall, Marie Massaro, Denetra McBride, Sue Murphy, Wilfredo Nieves, Duncan Olaechea, Dan Osborne, Precious Price, Calvin Price, Andy Rapp, Kevin Reich, Joshua Rivera, Kara Sheftel, Meg Slater, and Patti Vassia.
To learn more about the programs Middlesex United Way supports or to learn more about volunteer opportunities in your community, please contact Christina Heckart at christina.heckart@middlesexunitedway.org.
Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of the Middletown-based Middlesex United Way.