United Way campaign hits the mark

United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls Board of Directors member Pat Peterson, right, presents the Mary Connolly Community Caring Award to Stephen Pretto during the United Way’s 56th Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner April 4 at the Crystal Room in Naugatuck. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

NAUGATUCK — Stephen Pretto’s first assignment as a volunteer for the United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls was serving on the allocations committee — a group of people tasked with reviewing applications from organizations for funding.

The allocations committee will often visit organizations requesting funds to see firsthand the work they do. As Pretto spoke to the crowd at the United Way’s 56th Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner April 4 at the Crystal Room, he recalled one such trip to a shelter for women who were victims of domestic abuse.

The experience had a profound effect on him, Pretto said, and helped to fuel his dedication to the United Way for nearly a decade.

“It certainly makes you understand how much the people are in need out there and how much it matters to become involved and try to help these people out,” Pretto said.

This year, 17 agencies serving Naugatuck and Beacon Falls will be able to help meet the needs of the community thanks to funding from the United Way.

United Way officials announced at the dinner that the organization is going to reach its 2018 campaign goal of raising $415,000.

“We had a great campaign team. We had many new events. We had a great response from the community,” said campaign chairman Ken Healy, who is taking over as president of the United Way Board of Directors. “I’m excited for the campaign that just ended and future campaigns as well.”

The money raised will help fund 27 programs in all.

“For me, reaching goal, it tells the community that we’re still able to sustain ourselves, we’re still able to provide those funding sources for organizations and support them,” United Way Executive Director Lisa Shappy said. “The need is not changing, unfortunately. I wish we could say it is.”

The evening was also an opportunity to recognize the volunteers and businesses that help the United Way on its mission, highlighted by Pretto receiving the Mary Connolly Community Caring Award.

United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls Board of Directors immediate past President Yvette Wilmont, right, talks with Mary Connolly, a former executive director of the United Way, during the United Way’s 56th Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner April 4 at the Crystal Room in Naugatuck. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

The award honors an individual or individuals who have demonstrated outstanding support to the United Way and the entire community. Pretto, a 54-year-old Prospect resident and the chief financial officer for the Goldenrod Corporation in Beacon Falls, has served in a variety of roles at the United Way, including as a board member for over seven years and on the campaign team.

“To me it’s been a two-way street,” Pretto said. “The United Way brought out a part of me I didn’t know I had.”

Diversified Financial Solutions received the Silver Bowl Award of Excellence for having the largest increase in employee giving, corporate giving and an increase in participation.

Chuck Boulier, Whitney Cadett and Wayne and Nancy Buckmiller received Van Allen Medals for their community service. Lori Rotella, Naugatuck’s town planner, was named the 2018 coordinator of the year for her work to connect the campaign team with borough departments.

Ion Bank, The Chittenden Group and the Goldenrod Corporation received the Chairman’s Award for an increase in employee giving and participation.