Valley United Way: Thousands aided thanks to fundraising success

Thousands of area residents have received assistance from the Valley United Way — from clothing to holiday gifts to food through the ever-expanding Grow Your Own program.
A significant contributor to the Valley United Way’s ability to aid many in need throughout Shelton, Seymour, Oxford, Ansonia and Derby is the organization’s ability to raise funds and cultivate volunteers, individuals and businesses.
Just ask Shelton native Jimmy Tickey, who has made the United Way a major part of his busy life.

“This is the Valley’s social safety net, thanks to all the generous nonprofits and partner agencies,” said Tickey, wrapping up his third year as the organization’s Community Campaign chair, during which time more than $3 million has been raised under his guidance.
“The Valley United Way makes sure people do not fall through the cracks,” added Tickey. “Working with the United Way and the success we’ve had helping others feels personal to me. I was born and raised in Shelton. I’ve been in Valley my whole life. I see the results. It’s great to know we have helped 100,000 residents of the Valley. It is a really fulfilling feeling.”
Tickey has been involved with the Valley United Way since he was a student at Shelton High, joining the organization’s high school leadership council. While he was away during his college years, Tickey said he returned to the Valley United Way upon his graduation.
The United Way Community Campaign raises funds that go to support programs such as the Grown Your Own, 10 garden sites in Valley communities where healthy, homegrown food is needed, as well as Toys for Tots and clothing distributions. In the last year alone, the Valley United Way worked to help more than 100,000 families by providing direct support in alleviating hunger in the area community.
“I like to say ‘Give once, help many,’” said Tickey. “The money stays in the Valley, helping those people in the communities.”

While the United Way remains the preeminent philanthropic organization in the world, Tickey said that fundraising has become more challenging in recent years with so many other nonprofits entering the fray seeking financial assistance from individuals and businesses alike.
That led Valley United Way leaders to add small business walks to the agenda — not just to raise money but to raise awareness with how everyone can work together for the betterment of the needy throughout the Valley.
“We’re not asking for donations. We’re just there to introduce ourselves and become more plugged into the small business community,” said Tickey, adding that small businesses learn that assistance can come in many forms, not just monetary donations.
In recognition of all those who donate time and money to the nonprofit’s philanthropic efforts, the Valley United Way recently held its annual recognition dinner on June 3.
The top winner was the Shelton school system, which received the Valley United Way’s nonprofit of the year award. Shelton High School’s Kathy Riddle was on hand to accept the award on behalf of the school district.
Susan Coyle received the Charles H. Flynn Humanitarian Award. Coyle is chair of Center Stage, where she has been a member of the board of directors since 2010. She is an active member of St. Catherine’s Church Advisory Council, director of the Shelton Economic Development Corp., a corporator for Griffin Hospital and Valley United Way.
Coyle is a past director of the Valley Community Foundation and a member of the Development Committee. Co-owner and broker of Real Estate Two, Inc. since 1985, Coyle has co-chaired “Relay for Life” for nine years and co-chaired Griffin Hospital’s Breast Wellness Center Campaign as well as Valley Goes Pink.
BHCare’s Alliance for Prevention and Wellness was the recipient of the Mildred M. Davey Partner Agency Award. BHCare’s Alliance for Prevention and Wellness’ mission is to foster positive mental health by preventing substance misuse and other health-risk behaviors and by building resources that promote wellness. By working hand in hand with the community, this organization has opened the door for education and prevention of substance abuse and mental health promotion in an innovative and collaborative effort that continues to change and save lives, a press release said.
Small Business winner was Conn-Professional Water Services, which has tapped the main water lines and brought water to the Valley United Way’s Grow Your Own gardens at both of the Seymour locations. This work requires large equipment, special permits and police services and is worth thousands of dollars.
Medium Business winner was Dworken, Hillman, Lamorte, Sterczala, PC, which has been a longtime supporter. This year, the firm raised more than $7,300, nearly a 5% increase from last year.
Large Business of the Year went to the Edgewell Campaign Committee and People’s United Bank. Edgewell holds events and facilitate an employee meeting to raise funds, and this last campaign increased the giving by almost 8 percent for a total of $163,000.
Peoples United Bank invited Valley United Way staffers to give presentations at all branches to help employees understand how their contributions will be invested. This year, People’s United Bank raised $16,400, a $2,000 increase over last year.