United Way celebrates 60 years with picnic on Thursday

Members and volunteers, as well as representatives of the agencies the United Way funds, gathered Thursday for a barbecue to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the United Way of Milford.

Scott Rohrig of Lasse’s Restaurant was manning the grill, as familiar Milford faces chatted and enjoyed food and cake.

The United Way of Milford was founded in 1957, then called the United Fund. Community members got together to form the umbrella organization to coordinate and help fund the local non-profits like the Red Cross, mental health agency, Scouts and other organizations.

Today there are 20 agencies served by the United Way of Milford, according to Gary Johnson, president/CEO. The list hasn’t changed dramatically in the 60 years that the agency has existed in Milford. Money raised goes to the Milford Prevention Council, Beth El Homeless Shelter, Scouts, Boys & Girls Club, the local mental health agency Bridges, the YMCA, Good Shepherd Day Care, the Milford Senior Center, and the Literacy Volunteers of Southern Connecticut, to name some of them. The agency has also provided money for people whose homes were destroyed by storms Sandy and Irene.

Attendees brought diapers to the barbecue Thursday as part of an effort to collect 60,000 diapers this month for the anniversary celebration.

State Reps. Pam Staneski, Charles Ferraro and Kim Rose, along with State Sen. Gayle Slossberg, in cooperation with the United Way and TEAM, Inc., are organizing the collection. Diapers can be dropped off at many locations, including the United Way headquarters at 20 Evergreen Ave., which is off Gulf Street.

Staneski, who attended the barbecue, said it’s the largest diaper drive the city has ever held, and she thinks the 60,000 goal is attainable.

“They said we could do it,” she said.

Diane and Tony Candido, along with Ray Vitali, will be chairing this year’s United Way campaign, and when they hold the campaign kick off Wednesday, Sept. 27, at Subway World Headquarters, the admission price will be a box of diapers.

Diane Candido said she has been involved with the United Way for seven years, and seeing all the good the agency has accomplished in that time, she can only

imagine the impact the agency has had throughout its 60 years.

“Think about all we’ve done with the hurricanes,” she said. “But when you see the day to day people who come into this office, that’s what it’s all about.”