MIDDLETOWN — At the Middlesex United Way, we are very fortunate to have the support of many incredible volunteers. From our board and committees to our Young Leaders Society and Women’s Initiative, our volunteers provide their talents, time and services, allowing Middlesex United Way continues to grow stronger every day.
April is National Volunteer Month, and although we haven’t been able to gather in person much as of recent, we have had some very unique opportunities for volunteers to get involved.
When the pandemic hit, we were faced with needs that we had not previously experienced. We put out the call for volunteers and immediately had dozens of people volunteer to make masks for our community. Over 30 volunteers helped at our mask drive at Middletown High School, and we’ve had dozens join us at our Farmers to Families food drives.
In addition to hosting our volunteering events, Middlesex United Way is fortunate to have a local page where local organizations can post their volunteer needs. We receive weekly calls and website visits from individuals looking to get involved in some way or another. We can match hundreds of volunteers each year with other local nonprofits seeking help through our Volunteer Connection page.
You’ll find a listing of opportunities with many local organizations, such as event planning volunteers, tutors, visitors who would like to spend time with seniors, food pantry volunteers and more. To search for all volunteer opportunities or to create your post, visit middlesexunitedway.org/volunteer. Or call Maria Wood at 860-346-8695 to discuss your particular volunteer interests.
During the pandemic, food insecurity became more apparent than ever, as many were now without reliable sources of income. We hosted a total of five Farmer to Families food drives that provided people in Middlesex County fresh food, including meat, dairy, and produce, for free. The drives use local volunteers to help unpack the boxes and distribute them to recipients. Each drive followed COVID safety guidelines and have been contactless.
These drives would not have been possible without our amazing partners at Fellowship Church, St. Vincent de Paul and various other groups.
We asked one of our many volunteers to share feedback of their experience volunteering during the pandemic. Bruce Anesi, from Open Road Wealth Services, explained, “The Farmers to Families food distribution events were a great way for me to give back to the local community and make a difference for the recipients.
“All the volunteers were eager to find their ‘niche’ in the distribution process, and it was a well-organized process to have the cars roll through the parking lot at Amazing Grace Food Pantry and have the volunteers load their cars with the food boxes,” Anesi said.
“I have volunteered for two distribution events ... so far. Each event left me humbled by the people we served and grateful for the opportunity to bring a bit of comfort to those who may be struggling with putting food on their tables during the pandemic,” he said.
Our next distribution will take place April 15. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Manny Martinez firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more on how to get involved, please call or email Maria Wood email@example.com or call 860-346-8695.
Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of the Middlesex United Way in Middletown.