United Way of Southeastern Connecticut hosted its Campaign Celebration event to recognize local businesses and organizations that run outstanding fundraising campaigns and volunteer year-round on behalf of United Way. More than 300 community members gathered at the Cabaret Theatre at Mohegan Sun to celebrate the achievement. Click here to view a slide show from the event (please note this link will take you to our Facebook page).
At the event, 2014 Campaign Co-chairs Brian Orenstein, President & CEO of Charter Oak Federal Credit Union, and Wayne Burgess, President of the Southeastern CT Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, announced that $5,791,303 was raised.
Throughout the program, speakers and award winners were given a piece of a large puzzle to put in place onstage. At the end, the entire display showed the many programs, services, and initiatives that United Way donors and volunteers make possible through their contributions. The final pieces of the puzzle were placed by the 2014 Campaign Cabinet members, and they spelled out the final dollar amount raised.
United Way’s highest honor, the Chairman’s Award of Excellence, was presented to Mohegan Sun. The company is a Platinum level United Way Corporate Benefactor and sponsors a “loaned employee” each year to assist United Way staff. Their weeklong campaign features leadership giving meetings and incentives to team members for contributing. In 2014, Mohegan Sun sponsored the United Way Day of Action at the Coogan Farm Giving Garden when more than 100 of their employees volunteered to clear and till the land and plant vegetables. All produce grown at the garden is donated to the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center.
Other awards presented at the event include:
- Keystone of the Community – General Dynamics-Electric Boat and the EB Employees Community Service Association
- Innovation Award – Charter Oak Federal Credit Union
- Inspiration Award – Rodney Butler, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation
- Coordinator of the Year – Melissa Cardin, NLC Insurance Companies
- School Coordinator of the Year – Cindy Beauregard, Norwich Public Schools
- School Partner of the Year – Norwich Public Schools
- New Coordinators of the Year – Joshua Carter and Stacey Moratoya-Pilkington, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation/Foxwoods
- Heart of the Community – Norwich Public Utilities
- Corporate Support of the Year – Freeport McMoRan
- Community Leader of the Year – Zachry Nuclear Engineering
- Campaign Volunteer of the Year – Joyce Gresh
- Campaign Committee of the Year – Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation/Foxwoods
- Employee Campaign Performance of the Year - Monsanto
- Spirit of the Community Award – Pfizer Inc
- Leadership Giving Campaign of the Year – Applied Physical Sciences
- Allocations Volunteer of the Year – Jim Newman, MDA-UAW Local 571
- Non-profit Partner of the Year – Thames River Community Service
- Retail Partner of the Year -- Walmart
- City Partner of the Year – City of Groton
- Town Partner of the Year – Town of Groton
- Media Partner of the Year – The Day
- New Partner of the Year – Raymour & Flanigan
- Labor Partnership Award – MDA-UAW Local 571 and the Metal Trades Council of New London County
- College Partner of the Year – Connecticut College
- School Campaign Committee of the Year – Stonington Public Schools
- Agency Campaign Committee of the Year – Visiting Nurse Association
- Corporate Benefactor of the Year – Dominion Resources
- Loyal Company of the Year – SAVA Insurance Group
- Small Business of the Year – Suisman Shapiro
- Agency Coordinator of the Year Award – Nancy Cowser, United Community & Family Services
After the awards were presented, Nikki Gullickson, Assistant Superintendent of Stonington Public Schools and a member of United Way’s Campaign Cabinet, spoke about the ALICE Project. ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. In Connecticut 35% of households are walking a financial tightrope, unable to meet the basics of living including food, housing, transportation, child care and utilities. ALICE families earn enough money so that they are above the federal poverty level but still not enough to make ends meet.
“I see ALICE in some of the families in our schools,” Gullickson said. “I see the stress in the parents’ faces when they’re not sure where they’ll get their next meal. I see students come to school hungry, and I see them struggle in the classroom, unable to concentrate.
“Know this,” Gullickson continued, “What you’re doing when you choose to Live United and support United Way, you are also supporting ALICE. You are champions of ALICE. Your contributions add up to something meaningful, because we don’t want ALICE to just barely survive, we want ALICE to thrive. And when ALICE thrives, so does our entire community.” The event concluded with the call to action to Live United for ALICE. Guests at the event received buttons that read: I Live United for ALICE and were encourage to wear them the rest of the day. If you would like to learn more about ALICE, please click here.
The Campaign Celebration was sponsored by Charter Oak Federal Credit Union so that no donor dollars were used towards the event.