MIDDLETOWN — The Middlesex United Way is dedicated to improving education, health, housing, financial stability with a focus on racial equity and inclusion and has been impacting lives in these areas since 1935. Of the 15 towns we serve in Middlesex County, I would like to take the opportunity to highlight some of the work and resources we have in our Shoreline communities of Clinton, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.
The Middlesex United Way currently invests $385,000 in 26 programs that provide critical services to individuals and families living in the shoreline community. These programs — which account for 62 percent of the programs we support — focus on early childhood/school readiness and youth development, adult literacy, mental health and substance abuse counseling, food pantries, affordable housing and workforce development.
Last fiscal year, our partners served at least 10,141 individuals and their family members in the region. A majority of these services were targeted to low- and moderate-income individuals, including the Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed population, which falls above the poverty level, but still experiences financial instability and live paycheck to paycheck. Most do not qualify for government assistance, and rely heavily on the services provided by our partners.
Without their support, many of these families would fall deeper into poverty.
The onset of COVID-19 has exacerbated community needs and increased the number of people experiencing financial insecurity. Our partners have shown a tremendous amount of resiliency and creativity as they continued to meet needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Middlesex United Way established our own COVID relief fund to assist individuals and families financially impacted during these times. Since the creation, it has provided 46 Shoreline families were with money to help with basic needs due to these economic strains.
The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries responded to the huge increase in food insecurity by providing over 650,000 meals in the first six months of 2020 alone. At its peak, Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries served over 3,000 individuals a week.
Over 425 Shoreline residents received support from the Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut, which ensured children and their families’ mental health services continued uninterrupted. They even went as far as to provide technology to clients who did not otherwise have access to telehealth.
Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore of Westbrook is a Middlesex United Way-funded nonprofit dedicated to providing one-on-one tutoring in English literacy skills at no cost to our hard-working residents. They quickly transitioned to virtual learning, making all of their services available online. Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore helped 220 residents improve their English language skills, leading to employment opportunities, GEDs, other professional certifications and citizenship.
The Girl Scouts of Connecticut shifted a number of their programs to the virtual world, keeping the 502 girls from the Shoreline region connected during a time of social distancing.
Middlesex United Way has also played a vital role in the Old Saybrook Cares initiative, serving as fiduciary and on their steering committee. Old Saybrook Cares is a community committee formed to raise funds for families struggling to afford basic needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They have raised over 104,227 dollars and have approved 60 grants for Old Saybrook community members.
Stories like these are some of the countless reasons we are so proud of our funded partners’ fantastic work daily. From the Girl Scouts of Connecticut to Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore to numerous other programs and initiatives in our community, we work tirelessly to ensure that education, health, housing, financial stability and racial equity and inclusion are top priorities in our work.
To learn more about the resources available to you in your town, please contact Christina Heckart at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of the Middlesex United Way in Middletown.