BRISTOL - United Way of West Central Connecticut honored individuals and organizations that exemplify their mission to “Live United” at their 16th Annual Community Builders Reception.
The reception, which was held Thursday at DoubleTree by Hilton, saw the presentation of the Change Maker, Collaborative Excellence, Rising Star, Spirit of Caring and Youth Live United Awards. Friends of the recipient individuals and organizations applauded their achievements. They were joined by local legislators including Bristol Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu and the entire Bristol City Council.
“These people and organizations truly exemplify what it means to Live United by giving, advocating and volunteering,” said Donna Osuch, president and CEO of United Way of West Central Connecticut. “Tonight we thank all of those supporters who ‘Live United’ throughout the year.”
Guests were also given “pay it forward” coins. With these, they were encouraged to perform a small act of kindness to brighten someone’s day and then pass the coin along. They were then encouraged to share their good deeds on social media with the hashtag #UWHandraiser.
“We want you to use these coins to spread kindness and hope,” said Osuch. “We are using the hashtag hand raiser because when people ask ‘who will help me?’ you are the ones who raise your hands.”
The program also included raffles with prizes donated by local businesses.
The Spirit of Caring Award, given to an outstanding volunteer, was given to Bristol Superintendent of Schools Susan Moreau. She has volunteered her time to numerous organizations including the United Way Community Solutions Committee, Kids in the Middle, the Board of Directors for the Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut, the Bristol Boys & Girls Club Family Center, the Main Street Community Foundation and more.
“I’m certainly humbled,” said Moreau. “I do a lot of work in the community that I don’t feel I need recognition for. I see it as part of my work - these are all organizations that help kids. I Live United.”
Jena Dolittle of the United Way invited each recipient to the stage to speak about what it means to Live United.
The Change Maker Award, given to an individual, company or community collaboration that catapults or implements positive change, was presented to the Town of Plainville. The town’s United Way campaign increased by 12.7 percent in the past two years and the campaign manager, Carole Johnson, has seen strong support from town leaders.
“We’re certainly honored to be given this award tonight,” said Assistant Town Manager Shirley Osle. “Our employees are always there to help those in need. They are very aware of those organizations that help the less fortunate.”
Osle is also a member of United Way’s Day of Caring Committee.
“We’re a good bunch,” added Plainville Superintendent of Schools Maureen Brummett.
The Collaborative Excellence Award, which recognizes the impact of a local collaboration, was given to Connecticut 2-1-1. Connecticut 2-1-1 provides information, educational and connection to essential health and human services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They have partnered with more than 4,000 Connecticut organizations providing more than 40,000 programs and services.
The Rising Star Award, given to an individual, company or community collaboration that demonstrates accelerating impact in the community, went to Young Professionals for United Way. In 2017, PYVOT, originally part of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce, merged with Young Professionals for United Way. Thus the efforts of both organizations to help connect, network and plan volunteer efforts with young professionals was strengthened.
The Youth Live United Award recognizes middle and high school students with a connection to United Way who have volunteered in their communities. Dominic Caves of Bristol’s Kids in the Middle club, Madison Foley of Plainville’s Kids in the Middle, Madison Maske of Plymouth’s United Way Youth Board and Isaac Baek of Burlington’s United Way Youth Board we’re recognized.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.