United Way of Greater Waterbury dishes out awards during event

CEO of Ion Bank David Rotatori gives his acceptance speech at the Aqua Turf in Southington alongside Ion Bank workers. Raquel Williamson Republican American.

By Raquel Williamson Republican-American

SOUTHINGTON — Two popular and charitable local leaders enjoyed awards and thanks from the United Way of Greater Waterbury June 28 at the Aqua Turf during the nonprofit’s 35th annual Celebration and Awards, its first in person in three years.

The chummy, high-energy evening — accented by cheers from the Holy Cross cheerleading squad — had been virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Honorees from Ion Bank, which won the James C. Smith Spirit of Excellence Award, and Frank J. Monteiro of Brass Axe Capitol, enjoyed applause, cheers, handshakes and hugs.

Emcee Karen Hinds of Workplace Success Group LLC encouraged the crowd to get a little noisy and have fun, noting that people have forgotten how to celebrate in person after the long pandemic.

Every person present lived the theme of the night, “Build a Bridge,” said Kristen Jacoby, president and chief professional officer at United Way of Greater Waterbury. The concept: that people can span the gap between problems that detail lives and that moment when life can move forward. Volunteers and corporate partners made a difference, she said.

“In a pandemic spanning three campaign years that threatened to derail our best efforts, they stepped up to help raise a collective three-year total of over $12.2 million dollars to respond to immediate and future needs,” Jacoby said.

The United Way of Greater Waterbury serves nonprofit agencies in Bethlehem, Cheshire, Middlebury, Prospect, Southbury, Thomaston, Waterbury, Watertown, Wolcott and Woodbury.
Retired Webster Bank CEO James C. Smith presented Ion Bank and CEO Rotatori with the award named after Smith, who set a model for corporate charity during his time at Webster.

Pictured is Frederic and Lucy Kellogg Award winner Frank J. Monteiro delivering his acceptance speech. Photo by Anne Karolyi Republican American

Rotatori serves on the United Way’s Campaign Leadership Cabinet and his executive team led a record of giving from bank employees.

Ninety percent of Ion Bank employees donate to the campaign, something Rotatori said makes him both proud and lucky to lead the team.

“The expectation is to give,” Rotatori said. “We literally incentivize our employees to give volunteer hours, and we try to match the gifts that they give.”

In the past year, Ion Bank employees raised $149,707 for the United Way and $329,743 in charitable donations overall.

The Frederic and Lucy Kellogg Award went to Monteiro, a member of the United Way board of directors for five years and campaign co-chairman in 2017. That particular campaign was the first to raise $4 million.

Monteiro, known for his involvement and fundraising in many Greater Waterbury causes, eschewed the podium to instead walk through the crowd, stopping to thank and to joke with individual people who helped him help others in different ways.

“You’re honoring me tonight for the wrong reason,” said Monteiro. “You should be honoring all of you because everyone in this room made everything that I wanted to do successful. And I can’t thank you enough for that.”