United Way campaign off and running

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From left, United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls Executive Director Lisa Shappy, United Way President of the Board of Directors Kathy McPadden and Campaign Chair Pat Peterson talk during the campaign kickoff Sept. 9 at the Crystal Room in Naugatuck. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
From left, United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls Executive Director Lisa Shappy, United Way President of the Board of Directors Kathy McPadden and Campaign Chair Pat Peterson talk during the campaign kickoff Sept. 9 at the Crystal Room in Naugatuck. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

NAUGATUCK — Pat Peterson describes herself as a goal-orientated person. As chair of the United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls’ 2015 campaign, Peterson has a goal — to raise $420,000.

Peterson announced the goal for this year’s campaign at the campaign kickoff Sept. 9 at the Crystal Room. The goal is $420,000, but Peterson and Kathy McPadden, president of the United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls Board of Directors, both said the need in the community surpasses that figure.

“The needs in our community are growing faster than we can possibly raise funds,” McPadden told the more than 100 people who came together for the kickoff. “So, I hope each of you will do what you need to do to make this campaign a success.”

Through the campaign, the United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls helps to fund partner agencies and a youth athletics. One of those agencies is Literacy Volunteers of Greater Waterbury, a nonprofit that works to increase adult literacy.

Veronica Jimenez is one of the adult learners that have been helped by Literacy Volunteers of Greater Waterbury.

Jimenez, who told her story during the campaign kickoff, didn’t speak English when she came to American from Mexico. She started receiving tutoring from Literacy Volunteers of Greater Waterbury in 1999.

Aside from learning English, Jimenez said the program helped her to understand American society. She said was wanted to learn English to help her family become successful; her son recently graduated from Central Connecticut State University and her daughter is attending the University of Connecticut.

Most importantly, Jimenez continued, she learned the importance of donating and gained an appreciation for what other people did for her and her family.

“I always tell my kids they have to donate and help people,” she said.

This year’s campaign goal of $420,000 is down $20,000 from last year. United Way Executive Director Lisa Shappy said the goal is less because there has been a change in corporate giving formulas, which means cooperation aren’t donating like they have in the past. Also, she added, a review of data showed accounts and participation were down.

Shappy is hopeful that the campaign will surpass the goal, especially with Peterson at the helm.

“Pat has built the momentum, she’s got a good team and I think we’ll be successful,” Shappy said.

The campaign is off to a good start.

The United Way has already raised 29 percent of its goal, thanks to campaign pacesetters, money raised at events and a surprise donation.

Peterson said that as of last week campaign pacesetters Ion Bank and Naugatuck public schools reported pledges of $87,500 combined. A casino bus trip and the United Way’s annual golf tournament raised $14,300, she added.

On top of that, Naugatuck Valley Savings and Loan presented the United Way with a $20,000 corporate gift last week, which is in addition to what its employees will give through payroll deduction throughout the campaign.

“We’re well on our way,” Peterson said. “We ask all of you to keep the momentum going. We have a lot of work to do in the upcoming months; great things happen when we work together and live united.”

For information about the United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls, visit unitedwaynaugatuck.org.