Change at the Milford United Way

By Barry Berman, President/CEO, Milford United Way

For those of you I haven’t met, I am honored to be the new president of the Milford United Way. I come from an entrepreneurial background where I was engaged in broadcasting, media and marketing — but this post is not about me. It’s about what we as a community can do to help so many people in Milford who are just trying to make it through another day with fewer dollars in their pockets and more troubles on their minds.

And to make this happen, we at the Milford United Way must think about and employ new ways to reach out to inspire, educate and engage those who have the capacity to help.

It may surprise you that many people in Milford have no idea what the United Way does; some have never even heard of it.

In a nutshell, the Milford United Way is the leading charitable resource for Milford. Along with our support of more than a dozen other local organizations, we fund and develop meaningful programs to assist those in need in our city.

There’s lots of work to do.

The Need for New Approaches

Historically, a big part of the United Way’s annual campaign — across the globe and in Milford — counted on large companies rallying their employees to give generously through payroll deductions. Loyal employees stayed with the same company for years and staffing grew as companies did. But today, many large businesses are internationally based, work is increasingly automated, employees move from company to company or work remotely, and their charitable giving is a private affair.

We still are grateful for the continuing contributions and loyalty of Schick, Bic and Subway and their great employees, but we are not immune from the national and international trends.

The United Way has been changing with the times. My charge here is to help navigate these waters and find new ways to fund our programs because so many people need our help now more than ever.

So, What Are We Doing About It?

We are focusing on the critical issues that confront our friends, families and neighbors. Many can’t afford to put nutritious meals on their table. They can’t afford rent or are even on the verge of homelessness. Some may be disabled, unemployed or retired; however, many are working, but their take-home pay just doesn’t make ends meet. And the effects aren’t just financial. Is it any wonder the need for mental health services is skyrocketing?

So, we are seeking and funding organizations specifically engaged in these areas. We have traditionally worked with more than 20 organizations helping Milford families. We’re hoping to add more.

We are also creating new programs and funds to help bring food to the hungry and relief to those who are a step away from losing the roof over their heads. We plan to use our megaphone to let people know where they can get food, housing assistance and mental health services. It’s also important to let people know that it’s okay to not feel okay, that there is help available without stigma or shame.

What Can You Do to Help?

Clearly, if you’ve read this far, you probably know that I’m going to ask for your help. You’re right.

I’m asking you for two things. First, I would love to have you contribute to the Milford United Way. Your contribution will enable us to get more nutritious meals to people who are in the most need, help those on the edge of eviction or homelessness, and assist those who need better access to mental health services. Contributing to these programs is easy to do; just press the donate button that floats along this page (or click here).

I do find that when I give to a cause that helps people, I feel good; I feel I’ve done something worthwhile. I’m sure you will too. Any amount helps.

Second, we need volunteers for a wide range of things: passing out diapers to young mothers who can’t afford them, helping out at our annual Duck Race, spreading the word through social media, assisting people in need of rent or fuel, leading fundraising drives, doing clerical work around our office. Whatever skills you have, we can find a place for you with many thanks! Just click on the Volunteer tab.

And that’s it for post number one. I promise not to be too pitchy in the future, but the needs are so great; we need all the help we can get, and now is the time. And, thank you for your time.

You’ve Got a Friend – James Taylor