Southington United Way pledges same support for non-profits

Southington United Way pledges same support for non-profits

SOUTHINGTON — As nonprofit agencies face declining revenue and greater demand for services, the United Way of Southington intends to keep its support for those agencies unchanged from last year.

The pandemic disrupted or canceled many of the in-person fundraisers that keep nonprofits afloat. Rob Flood, Southington’s United Way president, said he has replacement events and efforts planned over the next few months that should keep the group from reducing its contributions to non-profits that benefit town residents.

“It’s a leap of faith. I’m good with that because we have a small reserve we draw on” although Flood said the group likely won’t have to. “We’re very confident with our plan for the rest of this year.”

The United Way of Southington, one of two single-town United Way groups in the state, raises money for nine nonprofit agencies that benefit Southington residents.

‘Ray of sunshine’

Mark Pooler, Southington-Cheshire Community YMCA CEO, said membership is 30 percent of what it was before the pandemic. Child care numbers are also half. To reduce expenses, the YMCA cut 20 full-time positions.

“These are some of the toughest, financially challenged years we’ve been through at the YMCA in a long, long time,” Pooler said. “The fact that United Way was able to step up to the plate and come through with their full donation that matches last year was like a ray of sunshine in these dark days.”

Like the United Way, Pooler said he’s rethinking the YMCA’s fundraising plans.

“One of our challenges is that we’ve built a fundraising model on marquee special events,” he said. “We’ve only been able to do two of those this year.”

One of those took place in January. The other, a golf tournament went forward. The YMCA’s Forever In Blue Jeans fundraiser usually takes place at the Aqua Turf Country Club but a large in-person dinner this year wasn’t feasible. Instead Pooler is planning for supporters to hold house dinner parties that’ll still include raffles and other features of the in-person event.

Increasing need

Earlier this year Flood and other United Way board members met with agency leaders via video conference. They heard about the increasing need as town residents lost jobs or childcare. Board members were unanimous in their decision to pledge the same amount of money as the previous fiscal year, Flood said.

Agency leaders are also adjusting their operations to continue during tough times.

“That’s who these people really are,” Flood said. “They’re the ones doing the real hard work. We’re raising money to support them.”

Barbara Damon is executive director of the Prudence Crandall Center, a shelter for domestic abuse victims. Since June, demand for housing for victims has skyrocketed.

“We have been inundated with demand for services,” Damon said. “We have had to use hotel rooms to keep up with capacity at the emergency shelter.” 

Last month, she said there were as many people housed in hotel rooms as in the center’s shelter.

A third of the center’s funding comes from donations while the remainder is comprised of state grants and contracts. Damon said many of the churches and organizations that hold fundraisers to benefit the center weren’t able to do so this spring or summer. She described the financial situation as a “mixed bag” and was grateful for the United Way’s pledge.

“The gift from the United Way of Southington is incredible,” Damon said.

jbuchanan@record-journal.com203-317-2230Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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