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Support UnitedWay’s annual campaign

After a local man accepted a job he thought was permanent, he was soon let go when the employee returned from leave. Faced without employment or any income, the man, Chris, began living in a tent in a local section of woods.

This is just one of the stories that the United Way of Greater Waterbury’s recent “Help Every Voice Be Heard” campaign is bringing attention to — the struggles of residents living on the fringes of society, both figuratively and literally. Intermingled in these stories is the community support, from longstanding service agencies to middle school students in Wolcott who collected thousands of food items for a local food pantry.

“We at United Way never lose sight that at the heart of our work is the individual, or the family, with a voice, that we must all hear,” says Kristen Jacoby, United Way of Greater Waterbury CPO and president.

The economic effects of the pandemic and rising inflation rates have pinched the budgets for households particularly hard in the region. Many of these individuals and families earn above the federal poverty level, but simply don’t have enough left over after their household expenses to provide for the full extent of their basic needs. These costs are estimated to be as high as $38,600 for a single individual and $128,000 for a family of four. According to the United Way, basic costs for household essentials have increased 18.2 percent over the last two years, which has put a greater strain on the budgets of individuals and families.

That’s where the United Way comes in. When an individual makes a contribution to United Way, either directly or through workplace payroll deductions, that funding helps to provide assistance to individuals in need in three main areas: education, financial stability, and basic needs, through more than 50 programs and initiatives. Some of those year-round services include food pantries, shelters, and utility assistance.

Connecticut ranks 19th in financial hardship among the 50 states with one of the nation’s highest percentages of households struggling to make ends meet in 2021, according to information provided through the new United Way Connecticut ALICE Report.

The United Way kicked off its Annual Campaign on Sept. 7 as a way to encourage financial support to help chip away at that need. This year’s campaign chairs are David Rotatori, CEO of Ion Bank, and local educator Pam Rotatori.

“We don’t want to leave anybody behind,” says Glenn Mc-Cabe, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the United Way of Greater Waterbury. “When you make a donation, you don’t have to choose between a food bank or an afterschool program. That single donation, when combined with thousands of others, addresses a multitude of issues.”

For every dollar that is raised for the United Way, $0.85 goes directly to the community. “If you put a very small dollar amount on each dollar donated by amazing United Way volunteers, the amount going to those in need jumps to $1.20 or $1.50 for every dollar donated. Then, you can multiply that number by the positive outcomes of the individuals and families that are now able to help themselves and in some cases help others — there is an exceptional difference in our community and the numbers are absolutely off the charts,” David Rotatori said.


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