The holidays are always a time to reflect on the past year — the ups, the downs, the accomplishments and the hardships. They are a time to celebrate with family, to reflect on what you are most thankful for, and — however possible — to give back and help others.

It’s easy to get caught up in the gift giving, the holiday parties and the decadence of the season. But it also should be a time to consider what other people have experienced this year.

How many seniors in your community have found it difficult to live independently or to access a warm, healthy meal?

How many local families have struggled to keep the heat on?

Who has been unable to get to work because they cannot afford child care?

Who has struggled to find housing for themselves or their children?

In the legislature, we think about these questions all the time. This year in particular we fought to protect and restore funding for services including senior meals, the Medicare Savings Program, and Care4Kids. But the work is not done. Next year, I know our fight to protect these core services will continue.

Outside of the legislature, there are also ways people can give back and help support those most in need right in our own local communities. Whether it is donating funds, food or time, there are many ways you can help others. Even the smallest act of kindness can be the pick me up someone needs to turn a corner and get on their feet.

Sometimes I hear from people who want to make a difference, but they are not sure where to begin. If you need some ideas, below please find a few great local resources to start with.

Let this holiday season be the start of action that lasts all year long. Get involved and give back — however you can!
TEAM, Inc.
Founded in 1965, TEAM (Training, Education and Manpower) is a community action agency serving 10 communities in the Lower Naugatuck Valley. TEAM provides critical human and social services to more than 5,000 families and 14,000 individuals in the lower Naugatuck Valley of Connecticut and neighboring towns. In 1965, local officials created TEAM to combat poverty in the region and to help low-income families increase their self-sufficiency. Today, TEAM manages more than a dozen programs that seek to improve the lives of economically vulnerable families. TEAM’s programs include services such as a child and adult food care program, a diaper bank, Meals on Wheels, medical transportation for seniors, home heating assistance and housing assistance. For more information visit http://www.teaminc.org.
Spooner House
Spooner House is operated by Area Congregations Together, Inc. with the mission of providing food, shelter and support services to people in need. It operates the only homeless shelter in the Lower Naugatuck Valley and one of the few in the state that welcomes families with children as well as individual adults. Annually, the center typically provides emergency shelter to more than 100 individuals, as well as more than 35,000 meals to those residents. The Valley Food Bank at Spooner House operates by appointment and on emergency basis and typically provides food to more than 4,000 individuals and more than 100,000 meals annually. If you are in need of food bank assistance, call 203-225-0453 extension 100 to make an appointment. For more information visit actspooner.org.  
Valley United Way
Valley United Way is a leading philanthropic organization serving the towns of Ansonia, Derby, Oxford, Seymour and Shelton. A local branch of the United Way, the Valley United Way is focused on preparing local youth to succeed, strengthening families, and helping people in crisis. The organization raises funds to support dozens of health & human service organizations that serve our community. It also organizes volunteer opportunities to help people serve others. For more information visit valleyunitedway.org.