On behalf of United Way of Greater New Haven and The Diaper Bank, we would like to extend our sincerest thanks to the Courtyard Marriott of Orange, CT, PFP/Schmitt-Sussman Enterprices, Inc., University of New Haven and Yale Conference Services for their support and fantastic acheivement of collecting 5,173 diapers for children in need.
We began this community of bloggers because we wanted to start a conversation. We wanted to provide a place where this community can come to check its own pulse. We encourage response and conversation. We just ask you to keep it respectful. We'd love to hear it. It's a conversation, after all, we hope you'll add to it.
An estimated 19% of Connecticut households (the highest rate in New England) either have no checking and savings account, or use fringe financial services rather than their own banking accounts. While 61% of CT’s unbanked/underbanked individuals are employed full-time in New Haven County 7.2% (the highest rate in Connecticut) of these individuals who can least afford it, pay to cash payroll, government entitlement checks and pay bills. In addition, due to their non-utilization and under utilization of the traditional financial systems these households lack strong credit histories and the safety of secured financial holdings.
On March 23, United Way of Greater New Haven (UWGNH) hosted a forum for non-profit organizations to share information about Boost! and to get their input about how Boost! should be designed. The Mayor and Superintendent both shared their vision about what New Haven young people need, the school change initiative, and how providing coordinated services to young people and their families through our vibrant non-profit sector is a vital component of the overall effort to promote student learning. UWGNH CEO Jack Healy explained why United Way was involved in this work, and how it would help address the educational disparity that emerged from a regional needs assessment several years ago as one of the region's top priorities. We also heard from three non-profit leaders about some of the experiences they have had working with the schools to meet the needs of young people.
On, March 24, 2010 from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. at the MacMillan Center at Yale University, I along with 40+ community stakeholders attended a community event announcing the United Way of Greater New Haven and Annie E. Casey Foundation's new Initiative, Financial Coaching (FCI). FCI will provide a wealth of new learning; budget coaching and financial guidance to greater New Haven residents helping them achieve financial stability.
Several years ago UWGNH was facing a very difficult annual campaign and we decided that we needed to bring the volunteers and staff together to build a high performance team. We decided to take the group for a day long adventure at the “ropes course” at the Hopkins School. The course is set up as a series of challenges that require strategy and teamwork. The group was doing very well balancing a seesaw, trusting each other while blindfolded and the other challenges and we all thought “this is no problem”-- until we came to the wall. The wall was twelve feet high and was flat as a board. The challenge was to get the entire team to the top of the wall. We were a mixed group of older, younger, male and female and one team member who was over 300 pounds.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Rabbi Herb Brockman from Congregation Mishkan Israel in Hamden. As the winter months were approaching, he met with other members of the Interfaith Cooperative Ministries to discuss the homeless situation in New Haven. The coalition, consisting of 41 churches, synagogues and mosques, recruited 19 congregations to create Abraham’s Tent, where for 12 weeks they will host and provide food and a home for homeless men. To hear Herb tell the story of how this came about brought tears to my eyes. He said “we have to do this; we have to find a way to make this work”. I still get chills thinking about it and remember how his enthusiasm was contagious and heart warming.
We know more families must choose between paying for utilities, housing and food. With an adequate supply of diapers costing familes $100/month, many children remain in dirty diapers for days which can lead to abuse and disease as well as developmental problems. To that end, the United Ways of Greater New Haven, Coastal Fairfield County and Western Connecticut are partnering with The Diaper Bank to collect half a million diapers for lower income families in our 33-town region. Area businesses and civic leaders joined with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and Congressman Jim Himes to celebrate the diaper drive and call our community to action. You can learn more about the issues and hear their comments from the December event on our website.
There was a time, a month or so ago, when I was actually looking forward to winter. I couldn’t wait to start wearing sweaters (and buy more), decorating, shopping and cooking for the holidays and watching the snow fall while sitting comfortably curled up in my favorite chair in front of the TV. The first snowfall was so exciting. I went outside and took pictures, then quickly went back in to take my place in front of the TV under a blanket. Ahh, that was a good day. Well, here we are. Its winter alright and boy is it cold outside. It seems like everywhere I go it is all everyone talks about; “How much longer is it supposed to be like this?”, “I need to go away on vacation to someplace warm”, “It was so cold this morning, I didn’t want to get out of bed”, etc. Sounds familiar, right?
While most of you can relate to this, there is something else we need to think about. Or should I say SOMEONE else? There are hundreds of people in our community who are not as fortunate. They don’t have the luxury of curling up on their favorite chair watching the snow. This is nothing you haven’t already heard.
But, did you know that on a single night in January 2008, there were 664,414 sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons nationwide?
This shouldn’t be a surprise to us; with the rising number of layoffs and increased numbers of foreclosures, our nation should be questioning just how many of our neighbors can’t make ends meet.
According to Ct Coalition to End Homelessness, in 2009 there were approximately 4,154 people who experienced homelessness in CT and 677 in New Haven alone.