CVC Assists Basement Systems with a new playground in Ansonia

At a recent Corporate Volunteer Council meeting  Allison Rubelman, Director of Ansonia Nature Center was the speaker, and she told Council members about theneeds to replace the playground at the Center which had recently been demolished after 25 years of service. The playground was well used, but had become a safety risk and had to be torn down recently.
The Big Build PosterAt the same time the CVC was in search for a project for their annual Week of Caring and Basement Systems was looking for a project as well. A meeting was held at Basement Systems with Larry Janesky, Allison, Pat Tarasovic of the CVC and Basement Systems staff. It was quickly decided to do an immediate site visit. Larry saw the empty playground and heard the many stories of children’s heartbreak and disappointment and decided right then and there that this would be their project.
The CVC embraced the idea of forming a Community Partnership with Basement Systems (a CVC company for close to 20 years) knowing that it would be different than past projects. This significant collaboration would be more supportive with Basement Systems doind the actual design and build of the playground. The CVC’s role was to prepare for the build by doing a major amount of landscaping work around the massive playground, painting picnic tables and trail work. They then stepped aside as Larry and his Basement Systems team turned a dream into reality over the course of three grueling days. The playground reopened on Monday, July 18 just as Larry had planned.
In addition to thanking Larry and Basement Systems for their incredible work, we also want to thank over 50 CVC volunteers who assisted prior to basement systems and to sponsorships from Better Packages, BIC, and a generous donation from Peralta Design, Homewood Suites by Hilton and a special lunch for volunteers prepared by Focaccia’s Café.

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Leadership Greater Valley 2016 Accepting Applications

Group2015_smallApplications are now being accepted for the 2016 Leadership Greater Valley Program which is a joint venture of Valley United Way, the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Valley Council for Health & Human Services. The nine week program starts on September 15 and combines leadership skill building with community education. Click here to learn more and get an application.

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Food Bank Helps People Through Tough Times

This is the second in a series of stories about the work of United Way and its partners in the community being put together by volunteer Richard Gelfand as a public service for United Way. Rich is a veteran publicist and PR specialist who truly enjoys assisting people and businesses with their communication needs. We thank him for sharing his time and talent with us. The Seymour Oxford Food Bank is one of the agencies participating in the Valley Council’s Hunger Task Force.

People from all walks of life are thankful recipients of the generosity from local and regional food banks. Many times it is for those who you’d never even think needed assistance. When you think about a food bank and the people who go there, what is the picture in your head? Many people would mention the homeless, the addicted and the mentally ill, for starters. But would you think about someone at your church, a neighbor, someone who is employed and has a safe place to live? Maybe even one of your friends — even a family member? Food banks benefit many sectors of society when people are in dire need of assistance.

One of those food banks, the Seymour Oxford Food Bank (SOFB), is right here in the Naugatuck Valley.


“I had to move out of my house. The bills were just too high for me to manage. My daughter passed away from cancer when she was just 19, and my wife has been very sick for years. Medical bills and prescriptions drained us; insurance alone was as high as $5000 a month. I am retired and I receive only $954 a month from Social Security and a very small amount of food stamps. I never thought I would be in a position like this.

“I live in Seymour in a senior housing complex that’s very nice. The Seymour Oxford Food Bank has been great to me ever since they were located in the church. The new location on Pine Street is great because I can shop for myself. They serve us coffee and occasionally throw a picnic. I write them a thank you note every single month. I even make them food sometimes out of the items I get from them.” — Anonymous, Seymour, 69


The Seymour Oxford Clergy Association established the Seymour Oxford Food Bank in 1979 to meet the growing request for food assistance within the church communities for members who fell below the poverty level. In 1981, SOFB was made available to all the residents of Seymour and Oxford and became a member of the Valley Food Bank Networks. It is governed by a board of directors and run by a lean staff of volunteers. SOFB is in the process of becoming an incorporated 501(c) non-profit organization. The food bank is designed to collect, store and distribute food to the residents of Seymour and Oxford that fall below the poverty level.


Last December, SOFB moved to its new location at 20 Pine Street in Seymour. Volunteers work Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:00am – 11:00am to prepare the shelves for clients, who shop on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 am – noon.

“Clients can now self-shop and no longer just be given pre-pack bags of groceries, to help give them more dignity to provide for their families in tough times,” said Toni Cassidy, SOFB Director, who has been with the organization for 10 years. “We see lots of single moms and a wide variety of people, many who were recently laid off or overwhelmed with large medical bills. Many people who we can help don’t even know we are here. Summer is here and it’s the slowest donation time of the year. We can always use more volunteers to help collect food and stock our shelves.” The SOFB is also looking to implement an “Adopt-a-Shelf” program where sponsors would purchase specific items and stock their corresponding shelves.

“I first heard about the food bank 13 years ago through word of mouth, when they were still located at the church. I get only $40 a month in food stamps for my two kids and me. Toward the end of the month it gets hard to put food on the table. I am on disability and feel fortunate to qualify for Section 8 housing, where I live here in Seymour. Before that we had to live in a shelter in Derby. It was very difficult.

“I am so appreciative of the Seymour Oxford Food Bank. I even donated a shopping cart to them. They are very nice people and I am so grateful they are there. And we can shop for ourselves there, which makes a big difference. I feel more complete being able to choose what we need by myself. I can now afford to take my kids to McDonald’s, but only once a month. That’s our treat.” – Bob Connolly, Seymour, 55


The Connecticut Food Bank and Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, released the 2015 Map the Meal Gap study, which offers a detailed look at the food budget required to meet the needs of families struggling with hunger here in Connecticut.

According to the study, 13.6%, or 488,350 of Connecticut’s residents, are “food insecure,” and it would take more than $253 million to meet the needs of Connecticut’s food insecure population, or $17.11 per week for each person. (Food insecure is defined as “lacking reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.”)

The Seymour Oxford Food Bank is located at 20 Pine Street in Seymour. To volunteer or find out more about the Seymour Oxford Food Bank, call 203-888-7826

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Youth Alums Forming Network for Youth Leaders

NYL-003Youth Leadership grads

Throughout the last few weeks, a dedicated group of graduated youth leaders have been working to develop a Youth Leadership alumni network. The official name for this group is NYL – the Network for Youth Leaders. Currently, they are in the process of reaching out to Youth Leadership alumni in the hopes of creating a strong, diverse representation for this group. Valley United Way’s Youth Leadership program is believed to be the oldest continuously operating United Way leadership program for high school students started in 1990. Continue reading

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“Grow Your Own” Gardeners Learn How to Handle Pests

Grow Your Own 2016 - Pest sessionParticipants in Valley United Way’s “Grow Your Own’ gardening program are a lot more knowledgeable about dealing with garden pests after an informative program provided by Caty Poole and the staff at Massaro Community Farm. The program was the second in a series of three programs designed to help our gardeners have successful gardens this summer. Continue reading

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United Way Announces Allocations

Valley United Way’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce over $450,000 in allocations for programs and services in the Valley. The decision followed an extensive review of requests conducted by United Way’s allocations volunteers headed by Ned Miller and Ron Villani. Twenty-one volunteers spent time in May and June visiting with the agencies and examining their budgets and programs.

Valley United Way President & C.O.O. noted that the volunteers devoted an enormous amount of time to the process to ensure that the dollars allocated return the best possible impact to the community. He thanked the volunteers for their hard work and dedication in making the difficult funding decisions as the requests always exceed the amount of funding available. “It’s an important and difficult task, but they do an exceptional job of balancing the needs of the community with the available funding,” he said. The funding runs from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017. Continue reading

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CDWG Captures Community Corporate Cup Crown

Corporate Cup 2016 WinnerCDWG recaptured sole possession of the Community Corporate for 2016 with a wire-to-wire finish and a commanding double digit point lead over BIC which had tied them for first place a year ago. Click here for the full results and here for the healthy team results.

Mark LaFortune is shown presenting the 2016 Corporate Cup and first place plaque to Thaddeus Kurowski and Jason Macionus  of CDWG

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Basement Systems to Rebuild Playground at Ansonia Nature Center

Valley United Way’s Corporate Volunteer Council (CVC) is celebrating its 20th anniversary in fine tradition, by making the greatest positive impact in the Valley.  

When Alison Rubelmann, Executive Director of the Ansonia Nature Center was guest speaker at a recent CVC monthly meeting, and explained the epic need for help in building their playground, the CVC knew it had to respond. 

At about the same time, Basement Systems of Seymour expressed interest in a major community service project for which its employees could contribute.  Continue reading

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BIC, CDWG Share Corporate Cup Run/Walk Title

Run-2016WinnerMichelle Wieler of Iroquois and Fred Wills of CDWG are the Women’s and Men’s Division winners of the 2016 Corporate Cup Run which was part of the Valley YMCA’s Sunset Race won by Tim Milenkevich. Approximately 100 Corporate Cup participants took part in either the run or the walk resulting in BIC and CDWG finishing in a first place tie in the team results.

Click here for the story and complete results.

The 2016 Community Cup winner will be announced at the Corporate Cup Awards Reception at Griffin Hospital on June 27 at 5:30. Reservations may be made by clicking here.

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Corporate Volunteer Council Selects Irving School

SetupDayGroup picture from 2015 Back to School

Valley United Way’s Corporate Volunteer Council (CVC) has selected Irving School, in Derby for the 2016 CVC Back to School Clothes for Kids Project. This will mark the sixth time that the CVC has selected Derby students and have spent a total of $144, 625.00. To date the CVC has outfitted 2,853 Valley children in need and spent $578,140.00. Continue reading

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