United Way campaign building momentum

Ion Bank President and CEO David Rotatori, left, shares a laugh with Joe Connolly during the United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls’ 2019 campaign kickoff dinner Sept. 26 at the Crystal Room in Naugatuck. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

NAUGATUCK — The United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls kicked off its annual campaign with a full head of steam.

The United Way’s goal this year is to raise $415,000 — the same as last year. Before the crowd gathered for the 2019 campaign kickoff dinner last Thursday night at the Crystal Room, the United Way already raised about $182,000, roughly 43% of its goal.

“The momentum is really good right now,” campaign Chairman Marcelo Martins said.

The strong early pace is thanks to Ion Bank raising about $160,000 through its pacesetter campaign, as well as a few special fundraising events hosted by the United Way.

“The momentum is there, and I think Marcelo really has the drive and the energy to rally his team,” United Way Executive Director Lisa Shappy said. “Everyone is excited that Marcelo has stepped up to take on this role.”

The money raised through the United Way’s campaign helps to support programs, which focus on basic needs, education and financial stability, run by 17 partner agencies that support the community.

“The United Way is more than a short-term charity for a few,” said Ken Healy, president of the United Way board of directors. “We’re about lasting solutions that build opportunities for all.”

United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls campaign Chairman Marcelo Martins, center, talks with United Way President Kenneth Healy, left, and Allan Monteiro of Ion Bank during the United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls’ 2019 campaign kickoff dinner Sept. 26 at the Crystal Room in Naugatuck. -BILL SHETTLE/REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

One of those partner agencies is the Connecticut Partnership for Children, formerly Naugatuck Partnership for Children.

The organization first partnered with the United Way in 2009, when it was known as Naugatuck Discovery.

“The United Way has been a tremendous supporter of us,” said Jill Mahoney, the organization’s executive director.

In turn, the United Way’s support has helped the organization support countless families through initiatives like a diaper bank and the Connecticut mobile food pantry. In September, Mahoney said, 546 people picked up food in the one hour the mobile food pantry was open and the organization distributed 1,600 diapers to families.

“The United Way has been a great help,” Mahoney said. “Without them we wouldn’t be able to help as many families as we do.”

With the 2019 campaign officially underway, Martins’ message to the community was a simple one.

“Together we can make a difference,” he said.