Saluting positive programs helping families and kids in Waterbury

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — The holidays may be over, but this was a day to give thanks in Waterbury. United Way of Greater of Waterbury did that in a big way with a big check presentation.

They awarded 3 organizations $225,000 in grant money to split between them for their work helping to improve the lives of families and children throughout the Greater Waterbury area.

The recipients are: Catholic Charities, The Hispanic Coalition of Greater Waterbury, and Reach Out and Read Connecticut. Each will receive $25,000 per year over a three-year period.

Reps from each group were proud that their organizations were saluted for the work they do:

“We are preparing children for school success,” said Tiffany Hall of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Hartford. “We are serving a very vulnerable population of kids who live in poverty, live in neighborhoods and communities that are low-resourced and so we’re here to help kids learn the skills necessary to help close that achievement gap.”

Catholic Charities also provides parents of young children resources in education, training, and sustainable employment that will help them and the family unit.

The Hispanic Coalition has spent much of the last year caring for the needs of the close to 300 families from Puerto Rico who fled to Waterbury after the destruction of Hurricane Maria on the island nation. They’ve opened a Welcome Center, which is full of donated clothes and toys they collected from the community for the hurricane victims. They’re also helping those families by starting an English as a Second Language curriculum.

“It gives them a set of obtaining some skills some learning — learning a new language, and it gives them an opportunity to be able to integrate into the community as employees, which is key,” said Victor Lopez, Jr. — a Waterbury alderman and executive director of the Hispanic Coalition.

The other organization receiving grant money today is Reach Out and Read Connecticut.

“We partner with pediatricians and pediatric care providers to bring early literacy programs to young children,” said Meghan Blomberg. “These children come from low income and at-risk families and this is their earliest chance for success for school and later in life.”

Blomberg says Reach Out and Read Connecticut could reach as many as 1,500 new families and children by the time the grant money expires.

“It’s an amazing program,” she said. “It’s a big outreach.”

Workers and volunteers at The United Way of Greater Waterbury say it feels good to salute and help those who give so much to others.

“We’re excited to put this money back into the Greater Waterbury area,” said Kara Summa, of the United Way. “It makes me feel very warm and proud to be part of this community.”

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