Wesleyan Aims for 47% United Way Participation to Make Difference in the Lives of Local Residents

Posted 10/16/07
Growing up, Karen Collins’s family found themselves in financially-difficult situations. But when times got tough, her community generously helped the family through local programs.

In college, she received financial aid, and relied on the support of many alumni of her school to finish her degrees.

Nowadays, the chair of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department, professor of mathematics, is giving back to her community by chairing Wesleyan’s Middlesex United Way campaign drive for the 2007-08 term.

Wesleyan’s annual campaign kick-off is Oct. 23.

“I’m a supporter of United Way because I want to give back to the world some of the help that I received,” Collins says. “I also want to live in a strong and healthy community, and that’s not really possible unless the people around me have food, homes, and basic medical care. The United Way serves people in our community, which is important to me, and supports so many programs in our community, that it is easy to find programs that I really want to support.”

Wesleyan employees will have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of local residents and improve community conditions by making donations to the Middlesex United Way. The campaign supports critical human care services and county-wide projects that address the top concerns of local residents including housing issues, mental health and substance abuse.

This year, Wesleyan’s goal is to raise $140,000 with 47 percent faculty and staff participation. Last year, Wesleyan raised $135,399 with 45 percent participation.

“As faculty and staff retire, we have to expect that our total contributions will fluctuate from year to year, and that’s one reason we are making the participation rate a priority this year,” Collins says.

Middlesex United Way currently supports six “What Matters” focus areas for funding including Affordable Housing Matters, School Readiness Matters, Positive Youth Development Matters, Independent Living Matters, Personal & Community Safety Matters and Volunteers Matter.

United Way also is mobilizing the caring power of communities in new ways, by working with new partners on prevention-based approaches that can bring about long-term, positive change.

Bill Holder, director of publications, says as a Wesleyan Middlesex United Way Campaign Board member, he is able to witness first hand how much effort goes into making sure that United Way dollars have a beneficial impact, and his contribution is handled with care.

“I certainly believe in helping worthy organizations in the community, and that’s part of my motivation for giving,” he says. “I’m also well aware that Middlesex United Way is working in a strategically smart way to address the underlying causes of problems in our county, and I think that’s so important.”

In 2006-07, Wesleyan was one of 160 businesses and organizations which helped raise 65 percent of all United Way funds during their annual workplace campaign. For its efforts, Wesleyan was named a Silver-level Corporate Sponsor.

“Together with our donors, volunteers and funding partners, we are bringing lasting change on key community issues like youth substance abuse, affordable housing, and early childhood development,” says Andy Heuer, Middlesex United Way development director. “Wesleyan’s leadership and financial support is, and always has been, an integral part in helping us achieve our goals.”

Employees can make a one-time donation or have funds withdrawn once a week, once every two weeks or once a month through Wesleyan’s payroll deduction plan. Forms will be sent to Wesleyan employees this month. A raffle drawing will be held with prizes for those making contributions.

“Here in the Wesleyan community, we have so much wealth compared to many, many people who live around us. We have wealth of education, of resources, and of support for our plans and ideas,” Collins says. “I believe that we can make a difference in the world and that, because we can be, we need to be leaders in making the world a better place. Our contributions make a difference in the lives of the people in our community, and they have an immediate impact. When we live in a strong community, our own lives are enriched and improved.”

For more information on Middlesex United Way go to the organization’s website at www.middlesexunitedway.org.

By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor