United Way of Greater Waterbury Live United

United Way Song Debuts

Monday, September 14, 2015



$3.9 Million is Charity's Biggest Goal

Mike Patrick - Republican-American

September 9, 2015

Reprinted with permission Republican-American


WATERBURY - A United Way campaign breakfast became a surprise concert Wednesday when Waterbury teens took to the stage to perform the campaign theme song they wrote.

The roomful of business and civic leaders at La Bella Vista clapped along as Gerald Mullings, Myles LaBarre and Nera Cambrelen repeated the chorus "It's a hand up, it's not a hand out" - a longtime ideal behind the United Way of Greater Waterbury's practice of giving.

The breakfast served to launch the organization's "A Hand Up" fundraising campaign and introduce its new chairman, George Strobel Jr., of the Waterbury-based Marjan Inc.

The United Way also announced its fundraising goal of $3.9 million.

"We're optimistic that we can make the goal based on how well the campaign was run last year . . . ," Strobel said. "We're going to try to carry that momentum further and do better this year."

It's the highest goal ever, officials said, and about $100,000 more than was raised in the last campaign.

Strobelsaid the campaign would continue fundraising efforts that have proven successful in the past, especially home-based events like coffee hours and other get-togethers in the outer towns.

"Our largest contributors have been consistently increasing and were optimistic that's going to happen again this year," he said. "We're going to strive to open up new doors in the business community and the manufacturing community."

Outgoing United Way Board Chairman Sandra Senich told the crowd research shows that while Waterbury has a 23 percent poverty rate, 57 percent of people struggle to make ends meet.

And in Southbury, she said, while the poverty rate is just 5 percent, 31 percent struggle financially.

"We are making significant progress toward shared short- and long-term goals as it relates to our three areas of impact - education, income stability and basic needs," she said.

"If we continue to work together to give a hand up to those in need, we will never leave our most vulnerable behind."

The teens' hands were way up, waving to the crowd as they chanted the "It's a hand up, it's not a hand out" mantra.

Mullings, 18, a student at Naugatuck Valley Community College, had appeared in the campaign video two years ago, then contacted the United Way offering to get involved again.

"He was inspired by being in it and after that he wanted to be part of it," incoming United Way Board Chairman Joe Gugliotti said. "That's just tremendous. That's just a great example of how, if you get people involved, good things happen that we can never dream up ourselves."

Mullings and songwriting partner LaBarre, 17, a student at Waterbury Arts Magnet School, were asked to compose a song that encompassed the United Way's spirit of charity.

"It was kind of just like, 'Write about the community and how the United Way helps,' because the United Way does do a lot," Mullings said. "So I kind of like went on the website and did a little research, and kind of got it from there."

LaBarre said it was his intention to write a tune "that would sound happy and uplifting at the same time."

The trio were given a standing ovation. United Way officials said they hope excitement for the new song - and the fundraising campaign - grows.

"The students, to get them involved and step up and do what they're doing, that will spread," Gugliotti said. "I mean, social media will get positive things like this out faster than we could ever get it out."

Visit the Republican-American website to view the United Way campaign video and the teen's performance.




Contact Mike Patrick at mpatrick@rep-am.com, on Twitter @RA_MikePatrick or on Facebook at RA.Mike.Patrick.


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