By KAITLYN NAPLES
Every year, the United Way of West Central Connecticut hosts its annual Community Builders’ reception to honor its volunteers who dedicate their time and energy into the causes the United Way supports. This year’s event honored the United Way’s Youth Board, Webster Bank, Wheeler Clinic’s Doug Kerr, and Plymouth Police Chief Karen Krasicky.
Receiving the Award for Excellence, which recognizes an organization’s commitment and support of the United Way, was Webster Bank whose employees raised over $40,000 during this year’s United Way campaign. With the corporate match and special event sponsorships, Webster Bank’s contribution this year in total was $65,000, which was a 45 percent increase over last year’s contribution.
Rick O’Brien, regional president for Webster Bank, said the United Way is the bank’s charity of choice and he said he is happy to be part of a company that not only allows its employees to volunteer, but encourages it. The employees participate in many community events, including the United Way’s annual Day of Caring.
This year’s recipient of the Lou Bachman Award was Wheeler Clinic Human Resources Manager Doug Kerr, who started at Wheeler Clinic in 2013. The Lou Bachman Award is given to individuals who have excelled in a particular area of the United Way campaign, and Kerr took the lead on Wheeler Clinic’s campaign this year, which increased by 47 percent.
“It is the team I work with that made this possible,” Kerr said about his award recognition. During this year’s campaign season, Kerr also helped to increase Wheeler Clinic’s participation rate by 12.7 percent.The recipient of this year’s Special Initiative Award, which recognizes the collaborative impact of a special initiative in the community, was the United Way Youth Board, which was formed in 1998.
The Youth Board consists of students from the six high schools in the towns the United Way covers, and they meet monthly to look at issues affecting their peers and create projects and activities to make an impact. The students are involved in the Children’s Holiday Parade, ringing bells for the Salvation Army, personal care drives for local organizations, participation in the Day of Caring, and create youth forums on various issues teens face.
Erin Palmquist of Bristol Central High School said she joined the Youth Board three years ago and said she has “gotten so much more out of the organization than I ever expected.”
She said the Youth Board has taught her how to collaborate with her peers and how important it is to be involved in her own community.
Connor McNaboe of Lewis Mills High School said “I never understood how much community service could impact our towns” and said he has enjoyed working with his peers who are kind-hearted and talented people.
Receiving the annual Spirit of Caring Award, which is given to an outstanding volunteer, was Plymouth Police Chief Karen Krasicky, who has been chief in Plymouth for nine years. She has served on the United Way’s Board of Directors and is a founding member of the West Central CT TRIAD Program, which helps provide opportunities to local seniors. She is involved in many other organizations, including the Rotary Club of Terryville, the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, and more. She also serves as the vice president of the Western Area Regional Chiefs of Police Association.
The United Way of West Central Connecticut serves Bristol, Burlington, Plymouth, Plainville.
Comments? Email knaples@BristolObserver.