I started working as United Way of West Central Connecticut’s Resource Development Coordinator a year ago this week. Because I just hit my one year anniversary, I have been feeling a little nostalgic. I often think of a question that was asked of me during the interview process: “What does it mean to LIVE UNITED? As I was preparing for my first interview, I knew instinctively that this question would be asked. I had seen the words LIVE UNITED over the years, but what did the words really mean?
During my interview, I recalled the story of a man walking along the beach with a friend and periodically picking up starfish and throwing them back into the ocean. The man’s friend questions why he is making the effort. Looking at the beach as a whole, there were so many starfish stranded and dying. The one man’s efforts barely touched the problem as a whole. The man responds to his friend by throwing another starfish back into the ocean and stating, “I made a difference to that one.” My answer to those interviewing me was that when you LIVE UNITED, you are working together with others toward a common goal. If everyone in the room during my interview was throwing starfish back into the ocean, then we could have a larger impact than the man’s solo efforts. If everyone in the community was working towards the same goal, then maybe we could save every starfish on that beach…or even come up with a solution so that no starfish was ever stranded again.
Over the last year, I have learned so much about United Way of West Central CT – organizations and programs we fund in the community, services we directly provide to local residents, and collaborative groups we manage to affect change around different issues. United Way brings people to the table to tackle our communities’ toughest issues – employers, nonprofits, government, faith organizations, educators, labor, health providers, community leaders, youth and many other partners. There are so many examples of our community partners LIVING UNITED, including the following groups coordinated by United Way:
- West Central CT TRIAD Program strengthens community partnerships that help to improve the quality of life, health and safety of older residents.
- Bristol’s Ending Family Homelessness Task Group works collaboratively to build a homelessness response and prevention system.
- Bristol Early Childhood Alliance is committed to ensuring that “every single child in Bristol is healthy and ready to learn by age five and achieves developmental and school success by age nine.”
Before working at United Way, I had been deeply involved in the collaborative work done through United Way’s Bristol Early Childhood Alliance. I served as the alliance’s co-chair for several years and saw tremendous wins locally – particularly in the areas of maternal depression, literacy, and childhood obesity. I saw how LIVING UNITED could truly bring positive changes in the lives of local children and families.
So what does it mean to LIVE UNITED? LIVING UNITED is working together with others in your community towards a common goal. In the case of United Way of West Central Connecticut, we are truly fighting for the health, education and financial stability of every person in West Central CT. I am so proud to work with inspiring coworkers, community leaders, and numerous volunteers who all raise their hands to help local residents in need: https://youtu.be/bKfxabeCgBE.
Kimberly Carmelich is a Resource Development Coordinator, for the United Way of West Central CT. It is located at 440 North Main Street, Suite D, Bristol, CT 06010. She can be contacted at (860) 582-9559 ext. 407. For more information, go to www.uwwestcentralct.org