Middlesex United Way: Donor gifts go a long way to help community

MIDDLETOWN — To continue to improve the lives of people in our community, Middlesex United Way invests donors’ gifts in the highest quality programs throughout Middlesex County. The programs we invest in are ones that make measurable progress toward our goals in our four focus areas of education, income, health and housing.

All United Way funding decisions are made by volunteers who serve on our Community Impact Teams. These volunteers analyze budgets, program efficiency, and effectiveness. Funding decisions are based on dollars available, community need, and on the ability of the applicant to meet that need. Each year, all services, programs and town-based projects currently funded by United Way are reviewed.

United Way funding is provided to the most capable and deserving locally based not-for-profit agencies which provide health and human services to the people of Middlesex County and ensure they meet identified critical community needs and priorities.

“Middlesex United Way provides me the opportunity to engage my heart in the community where I work. I enjoy so much speaking with program directors and understanding the impact their passion is having on the quality of life families and individuals in Middlesex County experience on a day-to-day basis,” said volunteer, Kara Sheftel, chair of the Wellness Team.

The Wellness team is an example of one of our Community Impact Teams. We are seeking more volunteers to get involved, as we know the more volunteers we have working on these projects correlates with the greater impact we can make.

Volunteers can serve on one or more of our Community Impact teams: Education, Financial Stability, Housing, Youth Development and Wellness. Each team is aligned with one of our focus areas. Each focus area will have its own vision. You will work directly alongside our nonprofit partners, who provide services in these areas, as well as helping us identify and address other community needs consistent with the focus and work of your specific team.

Some responsibilities these teams will have include reviewing grant proposals, conducting site visits as needed (mostly between March and May), developing funding recommendations, reviewing reports and evaluating partner effectiveness, and reviewing and revising community-level goals and outcomes.

They also help in identifying and researching community needs not being met by current partners, recommending how we can facilitate new initiatives to address identified community needs, and assisting with the identification of new resources (financial and nonfinancial) to support and advance our work.

Andy Rapp, a longtime volunteer, is the Community Impact Council chairman. When asked about his experience with volunteering through the CIC, Rapp said, “Volunteering for the United Way allows me to make a lasting impact on the community where I live.

“I learn something new at every meeting that I attend, and I am continually impressed by the positive energy that flows from the discussions, and is then translated into actions which address issues which people in our community confront on a daily basis. The volunteers all come with something to add and great decisions are made with input from all participants,” Rapp said.

Meeting frequencies and times are subject to change based on Community Impact volunteers’ availability, but in general, teams meet at the United Way office six to 10 times throughout the year. Teams meet more frequently between March and May.

Although this need is great, it is an important responsibility and task. We are looking for highly responsible individuals who are integrity-driven, passionate, and who value transparency. We are committed to ethical principles that demonstrate honesty, trustworthiness and reliability.

We are stewards of the support provided to us and ensure responsible, sound fiscal decision making. If this sounds like an opportunity you would be interested in, please call Ed Bonilla at 860-346-8695 or email at Ed.bonilla@middlesexunitedway.org.

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