Middlesex United Way: New Middletown intern focused on ALICE population

Editor’s note: Middlesex United Way President and CEO Kevin Wilhelm’s column this week is written by intern Kaitlin Binnington.

MIDDLETOWN — My name is Kaitlin Binnington and I am a student at Baylor University working toward my masters degree in social work with a specialization in community practice. I am excited to be interning here at Middlesex United Way working on developing a financial stability program for the Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed population here in Middlesex County.

Understanding the complexities of Middlesex County and the different types of communities that exist within our 15 small towns is nothing new to me. I was raised in Durham, spent much of my afternoons and weekends as a teenager here in Middletown at one of the local youth groups, spent some time living with family in Portland, and now live in Haddam with my husband and weird cat. Being that I only left living in this area for a year, and still spent most of my time here when not in classes, I would consider myself a native to the area.

I received my baccalaureate in social work from Central Connecticut State University in December 2017, and have been working in community mental health since then. During my time at Central, I was an intern at a domestic violence shelter in New Britain, I interned in Bristol court as a family violence victim advocate, I spent time interning with Living Proof, a local youth group, working on creating programming for teens over summer break; and I interned with the WISE mental health waiver program at Gilead Community Services as a case manager.

My final internship was with SAND Elementary School in Hartford. There, I researched and developed the sexual assault awareness education program required by the state, and we were able to implement the program and teach it to most grades in the school before I left.

While working with all of these different populations, I learned a lot about the presence of financial insecurity throughout the different communities. When I gained this understanding, I went from wanting to work in clinical social work to wanting to work to bring an end to poverty and financial insecurity in some capacity.

Working with Middlesex United Way as an intern provides me the opportunity to learn more about how financial insecurity is impacting our community both on the poverty level and the ALICE level.

The main project I will be working on is developing a coaching/mentoring program within the community to assist people in gaining basic financial skills, and also to overcome barriers they face in becoming financially stable. I will be connecting with community partners to learn how they are serving ALICE in our community.

My goal is to pilot a program by May with financial coaches and mentors for families that need extra support. I am excited to learn more about what our community needs and how they feel they could use support and development in financial stability.

I am looking forward to interning here at Middlesex United Way and connecting with people and providers in the community on this issue. Those with questions or who would like to connect about the ALICE project can email me at kaitlin_binnington1@baylor.edu or call the office Tuesday through Thursday at 860-346-8695.