Middlesex United Way: Prevention-based programs can help address community problems

MIDDLETOWN — The Middlesex United Way works in the areas of education, health, housing and financial stability, because to have the best chance at long-term success, we all need a quality education that leads to a stable job, enough income to support a family, good health, and a safe, decent and affordable place to live.

To improve community conditions, we must address the root causes of community problems and invest in long-term solutions that can prevent problems from happening in the first place. That means investing more in prevention-based programs.

In the area of financial stability, our vision is that individuals and families are economically stable. We continue to ensure our community has access to basic needs, as well as focus on ensuring people are meaningfully employed and have the skills to improve their economic situation. Middlesex United Way has begun to focus more workforce development as it relates to financial stability, as are many other United Ways across the country.

One of these ways we have begun to shift our focus is by providing funding to the Workforce Collaborative to support the work of the Advanced Manufacturing Employer Partnership, which supports sector industry partnerships that identify alternative ways to build the manufacturing talent pipeline.

This month, AMEP, along with other community partners, are presenting a manufacturing career fair and expo at Vinal Technical School in Middletown Oct. 17 from 4 to 6 p.m. It is geared toward individuals (veterans, recent high school graduates, manufacturing students and community college graduates) who have an interest in exploring a career in manufacturing.

The fair will include a tour of Vinal Technical High School’s manufacturing shops, a panel discussion on technical high school and community college programs, and insight of employer perspectives on jobs and wages.

If you are interested in attending or would like more information, please contact Lynn Raicik at lraicik@ccat.us or 860-282-4297.

Another opportunity for individuals looking to grow their careers or gain employment is the shoreline job fair, hosted by many of the same community partners. This is a free hiring event that will bring together local employers searching for local talent. Close to 20 employers are seeking to fill entry-level and above seasonal, temporary, and immediate full- and part-time job openings.

The employers are Aaron Manor Nursing & Rehab Center, Bausch Advanced Technologies, Clarity Software Solutions, Comfort Keepers, CT Marine Trade Association, Goodwill of Southern New England, Greater New Haven Transit District, Hilton Mystic, KinderCare (Essex, Guilford and Moodus), Liberty Bank, Marrakech, Inc., Project Genesis, Roto-Frank of America, Sarah Inc., Shop Rite, Tower Laboratories, US Census Bureau, V.F. McNeil Insurance and Vista Life Innovations.

The fair will be presented by Workforce Alliance and the American Job Centers of South-Central CT at Westbrook Town Hall Oct. 16 from noon to 3 pm. Register online at bit.ly/ShorlineJobFairOCT16, and please be sure to bring several copies of an updated resume.

Developing our workforce is not only important for the betterment of our community, but it is especially important to our ALICE families within the community. ALICE, which stands for Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed, is defined as individuals or families who have earnings above the federal poverty level, but below a basic cost-of-living threshold.

Despite working hard at often more than one job, these households struggle to make ends meet. ALICE workers are valued people in our community — they are our mechanics, administrative assistants, child care providers, etc. We depend on ALICE, and when ALICE struggles, it affects us all.

We hope these job fairs can provide unemployed and underemployed ALICE members better access to resources they often go without. To learn more about ALICE, or to get information on future hiring events, please contact Ed Bonilla at Ed.Bonilla@MiddlesexUnitedWay.org.

Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of the Middlesex United Way in Middletown.