NEW BRITAIN â€“ As part of United Wayâ€™s covid-19 relief funds, the YWCA New Britain received about $120,000 to put toward four year-round programs and one summer enrichment program.
â€śUnited Wayâ€™s support is really important to us because itâ€™s also discretionary, it means the flexibility allows us to really be able to fill the gaps that other funds canâ€™t fill,â€ť said Tracey Madden-Hennessey, executive director of YWCA New Britain.
To help families recover from the covid-19 pandemic, United Way awarded $3 million earlier this month to local community organizations that are addressing the long-term pandemic impacts. The awards were approved by the Board of Directors in June and out of the $3 million awarded, $213,000 will support programs running this summer for local children to help prevent learning loss and keep students on-track for academic success, according to United Way.
As people return to pre-pandemic activities, for many children, adults and families, the impact of the pandemic will be longer lasting, said Paula Gilberto, president and CEO of United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut.
â€śOur United Way is working with Community Partners to assess potential gaps in resources and to ensure a more comprehensive approach in helping people recover from the long-term effects of the pandemic,â€ť she said.
For YWCA New Britain, funding is provided for its childcare program, family literacy program, an afterschool program, Summer Bridge program and the sexual assault crisis service.
The childcare program is the YWCAâ€™s biggest program and Madden-Hennessey said the funds will be used primarily for its infant and toddler care. The childcare center is open and those in need are encouraged to contact the YWCA for more information.
â€śPre-covid, we had about 200 preschool children and 24 infants and toddlers,â€ť she said.
Next is the family literacy program, an adult education partnership with adult education literacy volunteers who provide free ESL and GED classes for women. Childcare for children six months and up and under eight years old is available for mothers in class.
â€śWe had about 60 women pre-covid and are looking to build that number back up once the pandemic gets more under control,â€ť Madden-Hennessey said. â€śWe will continue to have more events and classes in person while taking precautions.â€ť
Funds will also go into the YWCAâ€™s STRIVE program, which is a middle school youth empowerment program developed to meet the needs of female identifying and non-binary youth attending Slade or Pulaski Middle School.
â€śThe goal is to support their education but also build life skills and decision-making skills,â€ť Madden-Hennessey said. â€śWe want to help kids set up a successful and healthy trajectory as they grow up.â€ť
Another program that will benefit from the United Way funds is the Summer Bridge program, which is a partnership with OIC of New Britain to help eighth grade students make a smooth transition going into their high school careers.
â€śItâ€™s a program to introduce students to the expectations of high school life and to help them develop a connection with other kids who are going to high school together,â€ť Madden-Hennessey said. â€śThat way, when school starts in September, the transition wouldnâ€™t be a big scary experience for them.â€ť
Funds will also go into YWCAâ€™s sexual assault crisis service, which operates out of all Hartford County, some of Tolland County and Plymouth. The free and completely grant funded service provides 24-hour English and Spanish confidential hotlines with immediate access to trained, certified counselors.