📷  Weayonnoh Nelson-Davies (Community Legal Aid), April Parzych (Campaign Chair), Jessica Brigham (UWSCC Board President), Kimberly Dupuis (Pathways for Change), Marcia Szymanski (New Hope) and Mary O’Coin (UWSSC Executive Director)

STURBRIDGE – The United Way of Southbridge, Sturbridge and Charlton (UWSCC) held it’s kickoff for its 2018 Community Campaign on Thursday, October 4th at the Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center, Campaign Chairman, April Parzych announced the local goal of $300,000.

UWSCC provides grants to 17 non-profit partner agencies in Southbridge, Sturbridge and Charlton.   As October is “Domestic Violence Prevention” month, three agencies spoke at the morning’s event.  Each spoke about the programs funded by the United Way and services they provide for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Mary Szymanski speaks at a recent United Way event.

Martha Szymanski, Executive Director of New Hope stated “1 in 4 women experience violence by a partner in some part of her life.  Children exposed to violence are more likely to attempt suicide, experience eating disorders, abuse alcohol and drugs, run away from home, engage in teenage prostitution and commit sexual assault crimes and that 178 Southbridge victims received services from New Hope, as well as, 35 from Sturbridge and 39 from Charlton.  Domestic violence and sexual assault does not discriminate.  It doesn’t matter who you are. “   Kimberly Dupuis a youth counselor for Pathways for Change reviewed as part of the Sexual Assault Youth Educator program that she goes out to local schools, such as Tantasqua and Shepard Hill high schools and speaks teens about what a  healthy relationship looks like and how to prevent sexual assault. Weayonnoh Nelson-Davies of Community Legal Aid addressed the legal aspect of domestic violence and the need for the survivors to have access to legal aid during a traumatic time of their lives and offering them a place to turn for counseling on many legal issues.  Whether it deals with a restraining order, child support, custody, or housing assistance, Community Legal Aid is there for them.

“The agencies we fund are the ones that our community turns to on when they are in need of help. They are agencies that result in lasting change and a stronger community,” said UWSCC President Jessica Brigham. “I think there’s a misconception about whether United Way truly makes an impact, and we are hoping to continue to educate the public about just how many lives we help each year.”

Local organizations reach out directly to the United Way each spring to ask for funding to support specific programs that complement the UWSCC’s mission to fight for the health, education and financial stability of everyone in the community.  The UWSCC Community Investment Committee reviews applications and makes recommendations for funding the upcoming campaign year.

Last year, the UWSCC raised $288,668 locally and was able to support 25 programs.  (See below right for complete list of 2018-2019 funded agencies.)

2018 UWSCC Campaign Chair April Parzych said the need for support across Southbridge, Sturbridge and Charlton is staggering and affects all ages and ethnicities.

“Every dollar counts and can help provide basic individual needs for the homeless, help give a child the opportunity to attend summer camp or teach someone to read, just to mention a few possibilities,” Parzych said. “In Southbridge alone, 24 percent of the population lives below the poverty level. With just a small gift, we can all have a tremendous impact on the lives of so many in our community.”

The UWSCC accepts corporate, individual and community gifts, including recurring donations. Parzych noted nearly 70% of the United Way’s funding comes from workplace and corporate giving, but noted community and residential giving has seen an increase over the years.

Diane Sandman, Senator Anne Gobi, Robin Nashwaty, Representative Todd Smola, Andrea Cignarella, and Gabrielle Alan.

“Setting up monthly installments of just $25 per month will add up to nearly $1,000 over three years. That’s really significant when you stop to think about it,” she said.

Online gifts can be made any time at www.unitedwayssc.org.  To contact the United Way, please email unitedwayssc@verizon..net, call (508) 765-5491, or visit UnitedWaySSC on Facebook

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.