Greenwich United Way grants additional $296,500 to community

Greenwich United Way CEO, David Rabin, sent a letter to all existing Community Investment grantees on May 24, with the news that the organization would be providing additional funds towards programs that met human service needs of the Greenwich community by June 30. “We will consider applications for funding programs in the following three fields of service: Crisis/Self-Sufficiency, Children and Families and Older Adults,” said Rabin. Through this extension process, the Greenwich United Way awarded partner agencies with additional grants totaling $296,500 in support for programs that meet the critical human service needs in the Greenwich community.

Since the beginning of 2017, the Greenwich United Way has granted more than $1 million to fund programs working to meet the human service needs of the Greenwich community as identified by the organization’s Needs Assessment. According to the 2016 Needs Assessment Executive Report, the role of the Greenwich United Way is more critical than ever before. Acting as a major grant maker and the “finder, funder and fixer” of human services issues in the community, the Greenwich United Way continues to be the safety net for residents in need. This report is the only periodic statistical portrait of the community and demonstrates that the number of people who need help in the Greenwich community is growing.  

Listed in the Executive Summary of the 2016 Needs Assessment Report are facts supporting the fields of service categories, some of these are; 1.) Nearly 5 percent (3,100 people) of Greenwich citizens are living below the poverty line.  In addition, 12 percent (7,500 individuals) of the Greenwich population qualify as A.L.I.C.E. (asset limited, income constrained, employed). A.L.I.C.E. represents those that earn just above the federal poverty level, do not qualify for certain public supports, and often fall short of affording basic human needs such as food, shelter, and medical care, all of which are costlier in this region.  2.) The percentage of children participating in the free/reduced lunch program in Greenwich has grown from 10.4% in 2009 to 15.2% today.  3.) Of the more than 11,000 Greenwich residents that are 65 and older, one-third of them have an income of less than $50,000.

“The Community Investment Process starts with a deep dive identification of gaps where local human services are falling short of current needs. Armed with Needs Assessment research and real-time input from local agencies, our team of volunteers is uniquely positioned to invest our donors’ dollars where they are needed the most,” said Greenwich United Way Board Chair, Karen Keegan. She continued, “We are dedicated to every member of our local community having the opportunity to be healthy, educated, and self-sufficient.” Crisis and Self Sufficiency was a leading field of service category, with applications coming from YWCA, Pathways, Family Centers, The Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education, Neighbor to Neighbor, Pacific House and The Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County.   

Pathways received a $30,000 Extension Grant for their Enhanced Education Fellowship program which is the only day rehab program available for clients sufferings from a serious, persistent mental illness in Greenwich. “Pathways is so grateful for the extra FY17 (fiscal year 2017) funding which Greenwich United Way has provided,” said Executive Director at Pathways, Florence M. Griffin. She continued, “We are experiencing funding cuts from the State of Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services which supplies almost 50% of our annual revenues.  We have been able to make up for this spending cut with your generous funding.”

The Literacy Volunteers program at Family Centers was awarded a $20,000 Extension Grant. This program provides access to free, high-quality education to low-income, under-educated, immigrant adults who work and/or reside in Fairfield County. “By offering English language & literacy skills, adults gain an economic advantage to become self-reliant and self-sufficient,” said Family Centers CEO, Bob Arnold . He continued, “Our Literacy Volunteers program has served 822 students, of which 294 either live, work and/or takes classes in Greenwich. By focusing on this urgent need for advanced language and literacy skills necessary to compete in today’s labor market, this program addresses fundamental community challenges, such as the achievement gap, poverty, and unemployment.”  The results of the program include improved English language and literacy skills, enhanced computer skills as well as increased family income according to Family Centers.

The Sexual Assault Crisis and Education Center received $5,000 for sexual assault counseling, advocacy, and prevention programs. “Each day we meet the needs of Lower Fairfield County by providing bilingual services for all victims of sexual abuse, and their loved ones, including children, women, and men,” said Executive Director at The Center, Quentin Ball. She continued, “We accomplish this by maintaining a 24-hour hotline, which is run by our counselors plus more than 30 trained volunteers, providing up to 12 free and confidential sessions of short term crisis counseling to adults and children (age 14 and over) who have been a victim of sexual violence.” The Center also provides prevention education programs in grades k-12, at police departments, in hospitals, community centers and other locations in the community, reaching 20,306 individuals in the 2016-17 year (2,525 in Greenwich). During 16-17, The Center responded to 143 crisis hotline calls and made 29 hospital visits, provided short-term crisis counseling to 541 individuals (57 Greenwich residents). “The Center is committed to supporting Greenwich residents who have been victims of sexual violence, and are equally committed to educating all residents in prevention,” said Ball.  

This Needs Assessment proves that agencies require collaboration to be successful and to achieve positive community change. As evidenced by the comprehensive report, purposeful teamwork among agencies has never been more important than today. A prime example of excellent town-wide collaboration is the Greenwich United Way Community Planning Council. The Council is a roundtable comprised of more than thirty-five human service professionals, town representatives and community volunteers who meet monthly as a forum for exchanging ideas. The Council conducts the Needs Assessment every five years to identify unmet local needs and works on an ongoing basis to develop action plans for improving the lives of our most at-risk community members.

To learn more about the Needs Assessment and programs that received grants in 2017 visit the Greenwich United Way website (www.greenwichunitedway.org). Visit Greenwich United Way on Facebook (facebook.com/greenwichunitedway/), Twitter (twitter.com/GreenwichUW) or Instagram (instagram.com/greenwichunitedway/) to learn more about the organization and people it serves in real-time.

Literacy Volunteers Program Manager Lucia Cook (right) assisting a student in some literacy work at Family Centers.

Literacy Volunteers Program Manager Lucia Cook (right) assisting a student in some literacy work at Family Centers.

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