story & photos
by Jessica Warzeniak
The United Way of SECT (UWSECT) kicked-off their Fall Fundraising Campaign at their Gales Ferry office on Friday, September 17 with a turn-out of nearly 200 supporters – pretty good for 7:30 a.m. on a drizzly morning!
Donning “Live United” t-shirts, co-chairs Melodie Peters, First Vice President, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) CT, and Rodney Butler, Chairman, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, announced the new and wildly different campaign goal for 2010-2011: Bring 2! “It’s not a typical campaign,” explained Melodie. “Virginia Mason, the new president [and CEO] of UWSECT, turned this all around. She told us to think outside the box. It’s a new age.”
Now, what exactly does “Bring 2” mean and how does that translate to a campaign goal? The idea is for every act of support to be doubled. So, bring 2 volunteers, bring 2 new ideas, bring 2 new speakers to area schools, bring 2 new pledges, bring 2 new donors – whatever you can do to help out, bring 2 with you. “We need a grassroots approach that encourages the community to not only continue to give to United Way, but to ask our donors to advocate on United Way’s behalf,” explains Melodie.
The goal is not a dollar amount but to increase volunteers and donations. “If we increase participation, we can all ‘Live United,’” says Rodney.
“Southeastern CT protects its own,” said Melodie. “I am so proud to be a member of this community. We stick together. If we can increase our base of donations, we can show this community is stronger and is sticking together through thick and thin.”
Not only is the Bring 2 campaign new for this year, but it is the first time in the history of United Way of SECT’s campaigns to have co-chairs. “I couldn’t have been matched with a better co-chair,” said Melodie. “Rodney comes from the corporate world and I come from labor.”
The money raised from the United Way’s campaign is used to give funding to partner agencies in our community, the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center and Day of Caring projects.
The Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center distributes over 1,700,000 pounds of food annually to 92 program sites at no cost to those in need. For every $5 donated, the center can provide 18 meals to our neighbors in need! Established in 1988, Gemma E. Moran, founding director, helped United Way and local labor unions join together to create the food bank that bears her name.
The Day of Caring is a traditional United Way volunteer event that kicks off their annual campaign every September, but UWSECT’s Day of Caring program is unique in that it offers year-round service with nearly 50 projects annually.