MERIDEN —The United Way of Meriden and Wallingford celebrated the kickoff of its annual fundraising campaign with a gathering of local nonprofits and members of the business community Thursday evening.
“Last year after the pandemic we were in this fog,” said Maria Campos-Harlow, executive director of the United Way of Meriden and Wallingford. “We were thinking we have to think differently now, we have to look for a new way and a different way to invest the dollars from our campaign.”
So members of the Meriden and Wallingford United Way met with residents, non-profits and businesses to assess needs. Workforce development was a common theme in those meetings, she said. Business leaders spoke about the challenges of finding workers and non-profits shared information about barriers to employment.
Campos-Harlow said they worked with six non-profit agencies to create a workforce navigator staff position. The position will help people find a stable career path and access available resources.
Along with the funds raised during the 2022 campaign, the United Way also received $600,000 in ARPA funds from the City of Meriden. The funds will support the workforce development initiative for three years, Mayor Kevin Scarpati said at Thursday’s meeting. He also spoke about the overall importance of the United Way.
“Our history is rich, but our future is brighter,” Scarpati said. “...It truly is such a worthwhile cause. It’s so easy to get behind the United Way because they champion a cause that’s important to all of us, and that’s the community.”
The event was held at the new Meriden Historical Society museum, 41 W. Main St., and honored the sponsors of the 2022 campaign. Burns & McDonnell was the highest level sponsor at $143,855, Ulbrich Stainless Steels and Special Medals donated $64,219, Webster Bank donated $29,045. Eversource Energy, Fosdick Fulfillment and the Record-Journal all donated between $10,000 and $24,999, and Ion Bank donated between $5,000 and $9,999.
Liz White Notarangelo, RJ Media Group executive vice president and Record-Journal publisher, was announced as the chair for the 2023 campaign. White Notarangelo said she was honored to fill the role, as her family has been involved with the United Way for three generations.
“Our family has experienced the United Way from many perspectives,” she said. “...We’ve seen the tremendous impact the United Way has had on our community, bringing all of the non-profits together, centralizing and supporting them.”
Services the United Way supports through non-profit organizations include after school programs, childcare, senior transportation, basic needs assistance and literacy programs.