MIDDLETOWN — Despite the countless challenges the pandemic has brought, thousands of companies, organizations, and donors continued to step up this past year during our annual campaign. The time of need has never been more significant, due to the COVID-19 crisis, and the subsequent financial challenges that came along with it. We are working to continue to support local families and individuals now more than ever.
Annually, Middlesex United Way campaigns to raise funds and strategically disburses them to the most capable and local organizations in need. This is done mainly through workplace campaigns. At each workplace campaign, a key person or group of individuals, known as campaign coordinator(s), plan and execute employee giving campaigns, sometimes working with a group of volunteers within the company.
Any company — from two employees to 20,000 — can hold a Middlesex United Way campaign. All monies raised by your company stay local here in Middlesex County — unless otherwise specified by the donor — to create a measurable impact in education, health, housing, financial stability, and racial equity and inclusion.
This year, in order to adapt to the “new normal,” our campaigns have been tailored to suit socially distanced and remote working environments.
We’ve adapted our workplace campaign strategy to fit companies’ needs with employees working from home or at a limited capacity. We provide ready-to-use promotional materials, as well as customizable templates. Companies can run their campaign in numerous ways, and contributors can make their pledges even more accessible by utilizing our text messaging service or online pledge forms.
There have already been many successes. I want to take this opportunity to thank a few companies for their dedication to our current campaign. Wesleyan University increased its overall campaign by $4,000 compared to last year. Our campaign Chairman, Superintendent of Schools Michael Conner, Manny Martinez, MaryEllen Shuckerow of St. Vincent DePaul Middletown, and Shanay Fulton were able to have a panelist discussion around our community impact work and how partners can leverage United Way dollars for their program.
We would also like to thank the following workplace campaigns for their increases — Colebrook Financial, East Hampton Public Schools, Westbrook Public Schools, Russell Library, the town of Portland, Middlesex Chamber of Commerce, and People’s United Bank.
New to the campaign team this year is Patti Vassia as our leader donor chairwoman. Patti has been instrumental in reconnecting with former donors who gave at the leadership level of $1,000 or more in her new role. Through her continued outreach, leadership dollars have increased by over $15,000.
Through the support of our donors, we have been able to invest in countywide programs.
Middlesex United Way invested over $1 million in early childhood education in the last decade alone. Our vision is that students in our community succeed academically, and children are ready and prepared to learn when they enter kindergarten.
Fifteen years ago, the Middlesex United Way provided funding and other resources to establish early childhood councils, a countywide initiative to ensure children were socially and emotionally ready to learn by kindergarten. One of the goals of the initiative was to address the issue of early identification and intervention of behavioral problems in children birth to 5.
Another countywide initiative made possible by campaign contributions is our investment in youth development. Similar to school readiness, Middlesex United Way invested in a regional approach to youth substance prevention work 15 years ago. The Healthy Communities, Healthy Youth initiative is implemented through youth service bureaus, and supports our vision that youth avoid risky and unhealthy behaviors while developing skills needed to lead positive, productive lives.
Over the past decade, we invested over $700,000 in this initiative and there have been countless success stories.
The Middlesex United Way continues supporting the work of early childhood councils and youth service bureaus, and is leading a conversation with staff and key stakeholders to discuss the evolving roles and needs of the initiatives given the changes and disruptions that we are experiencing today.
Simply put, we would not be able to do the work we do without companies, organizations, and individual donors believing in us. We have had a lasting impact on our community and are eager to continue doing so.
To learn more about workplace campaigns and other ways to give or for information about the programs we fund, please contact Manny Martinez at Manny.Martinez@middlesexunitedway.org
Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of the Middlesex United Way in Middletown.