Projects addressed summer learning, nutrition and needs of struggling households
Through Day of Action, United Way of Western Connecticut (UWWC) engaged more than 200 volunteers in a variety of service projects throughout Northern Fairfield and Southern Litchfield Counties on Thursday, June 21.
Summer learning and nutrition were the national focus for United Way Day of Action, allowing UWWC to more precisely serve hard-working Western Connecticut households we identify as ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). ALICE comprises 38% of Connecticut households who struggle to afford the necessities of life: housing, healthcare, food, childcare.
Summer is a critical time for children’s academic and physical well-being, but in too many communities, kids are falling behind and going hungry during the summer months. Boosting summer learning – and working with schools, summer programs, employers and other nonprofits – is part of United Way’s strategy to help kids succeed in school, work and life. United Way was honored to partner with End Hunger Connecticut this year to host a Summer Meals Blitz to increase awareness of the free summer meal sites in and around Greater Danbury.
“Volunteers making an active change in our community is at the heart of Day of Action,” said Kimberly Morgan, CEO of UWWC. “Our area is fortunate to be home to many socially responsible companies that share our values of volunteerism and community investment. We are grateful for their encouragement and dedication of an entire employee workday to volunteering. It is because of their leadership and commitment to our community that so much important work is completed.”
This year’s major Day of Action projects were centered on the themes of summer learning and nutrition. After the event’s kick off at the Danbury City Center Green at Ives Street, teams of volunteers got to work packing weekend food kits and literacy kits. For our third year, we had volunteers build summer literacy kits filled with books and reading supplies for 210 local second grade students at Hayestown Avenue School in Danbury, and Hill and Plain School in New Milford. These Camp Wannaread literacy kits help students combat literacy skill loss that occurs over summer break, which can set some students back up to three months academically. In addition, teams of volunteers took to neighborhoods in Danbury to raise awareness and share information about accessing summer meals with End Hunger Connecticut on a Summer Meal Blitz.
After the supplies were packed, the City Center Green transformed into a summer fair for a Community Block Party, where area families learned about community resources to keep families healthy and engaged academically this summer, while enjoying carnival games, face painting and interacting with animals from Animal Embassy. Children and families were able to pick up some new some summer reading from a UPS truck stocked with books for readers at all levels.
In addition to these projects, Day of Action volunteers from area companies engaged in projects such as reading to children, improvements at area childcare centers, beautification projects to community parks and museums, and lending a hand at the New Milford Senior Center—community centers which impact and add value to the lives of ALICE households.
Launched in 2008, United Way’s Day of Action is an annual event that mobilizes thousands of volunteers to make a meaningful impact in more than 400 communities around the world. UWWC’s Day of Action could not have been successful without the generous donation of books from Fairfield County Bank, Kimberly-Clark, Newtown Savings Bank, and UPS. Volunteers at the kick-off breakfast were treated to a filling breakfast donated by Chick-fil-A in Brookfield and fueled up with coffee donated by Starbucks on North Street in Danbury. Pour Me Coffee & Wine Cafe in Danbury donated iced tea to keep volunteers going through the Community Block Party.