MERIDEN — In addition to raising funds for 26 community agencies, the United Way of Meriden and Wallingford helped hurricane evacuees, adopting 105 families with the help of its partners.
“They donated bunk beds for kids, pots and pans, not just tables and chairs,” said United Way Executive Director James Ieronimo. “There is a tremendous need for families being relocated by hurricanes, from Houston, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Imagine being picked up one night and showing up in a different place with people who spoke a different language?”
The United Way honored members of the Meriden Rotary Club, Fresh Start Emergency Relief/Ward Street Church of Christ, and Macy’s Backstage for helping families who relocated to Meriden and Wallingford.
“These groups said these families are part of this community and we’re going to take care of them,” Ieronimo said.
About 100 people attended the United Way of Meriden and Wallingford’s 2017/2018 Campaign Awards and Recognition program Thursday at MidState Medical Center to honor the corporations, businesses and individuals who helped the campaign reach its financial goals. The funds are used to help dozens of nonprofits.
Members of the Special Events campaign were also honored for helping to raise more than $500,000 over 10 years.
The event also included a bittersweet torch passing from Ieronimo to his replacement Maria Harlow, executive director of the Spanish Community of Wallingford.
“It really speaks to the health of the organization,” Ieronimo said. “We are thrilled that Maria is choosing us as the next level of her career. We are very happy that she is coming to an organization that has a board that is the better than any United Way in Connecticut.”
Ieronimo, who has led the United Way for 12 years, recently announced he was leaving the agency for new opportunities, but he wanted to dedicate the evening to the volunteers who take on the fundraising challenges and raise money through events like barbecues and chili cook-offs.
Rajan Doering and Laurie Gomez, who are heading to college in the fall, were named Volunteers of the Year. Doering helped organize an event at Sheehan high School in Wallingford that allowed agencies to introduce high school students to volunteer opportunities.
“I was starting with the recruitment event and talked to Jim who was speaking at our honor society and I got a call to be on their board,” Doering said. “The United Way is so involved with our community helping all the other non-profits in town.”
Lawrence McGoldrick, executive director of the Meriden Boys & Girls Club, was among the agency partners who was called on to help with the hurricane refugees.
“This (the awards night) gives all the beneficiary agencies a great opportunity to personally meet and thank all the corporate supporters,” McGoldrick said.
Top corporate and employee donors— over $25,000— included Burns & McDonnell, Ulbrich Stainless Steels and Specialty Metals Inc., 3M Purification Inc. and Webster Bank.
2017-2018 Campaign Chairman Matt Cammarota thanked Ieronimo for his longtime advocacy for the community.
“Jim has meant so much to this community,” Cammarota said. “Thank you very much for your personal service.”