March
News, Updates and Spotlights
Together we inspire and empower our community; creating long-lasting impact.
March 2021
HAPPY ST. PATRCK'S DAY
Mike’s love for Bristol and giving back to the community made him the perfect candidate for the position and it showed with every event and corporate presentation. His relationship with the United Way opened many opportunities for him both professionally and personally. In 1989, he launched a new career with the Tracy-Driscoll Insurance Agency.
 
Over the next two decades Mike served on numerous boards and commissions, including the Bristol Business Education Foundation, Bristol Exchange Club, Central CT Chambers of Commerce, City of Bristol Development Authority and others, all while growing his family and building his insurance business.

He continued his involvement with United Way of West Central CT by serving on a variety of committees, including Allocations, Community Builders' Reception, Finance and Golf, while serving on the Board of Directors in various roles and becoming Chairman of the Board from 2001-2003.

In 2006, Mike was honored with the Lou Bachman Award, which is given to individuals who have worked tirelessly to help United Way succeed. United Way honored him with the prestigious Spirit of Caring Award in 2017, which recognizes recipients for their capacity to care for people through an unequalled spirit of volunteerism.

Mike continues to LIVE UNITED as a current member of the Community Builders' and Finance Committees and still serves as the annual Campaign Chairman.

United Way Happenings
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance/VITA 2021
Open Tuesdays & Saturdays through April 13
by Appointment Only

Free services follow COVID-19 Protocols:

HRA, in partnership with United Way of West Central Connecticut, is providing FREE income tax preparation assistance this year with COVID-19 safety protocols. United Way's site is NOT open to the general public. Customers may choose to file their return with one of the two methods below:

1. Drop-Off by Appointment Only (No walk-ins accepted)
Customers can schedule an appointment to drop off tax return documents at local VITA sites. An appointment is necessary in order to hand your documents to a trained volunteer. You may wait in a vehicle until your return is complete or schedule a time to return to the site to pick up your documents.
 
Call today for your appointment: (860) 356-2000; please select option 2 for the United Way office at 440 North Main Street, Bristol, or schedule your appointment online and choose the United Way Bristol drop site:

2. Virtual VITA
Use the Virtual VITA link to upload your tax documents directly using your own device. Go to https://hranb-vita-portal.communityappointments.com/
and follow the prompts. You will be contacted when your return is complete.


"Dementia Friendly" Community Efforts Resume with Bristol Health
United Way of West Central Connecticut and Bristol Health are resuming efforts to help make Bristol a “Dementia Friendly Community.” The “Lunch and Learn” webinar was held on Feb. 17, featuring “Dementia Champion” Lynn Litwinczyk, MS and Occupational Therapist from Bristol Health. The program is intended to help people become a “Dementia Friend” by giving them techniques for better understanding and communicating with people living with dementia.

The Dementia Friends program is 75 minutes and helps those who attend better able to understand what it’s like to live with the disease, and it gives people strategies for communicating with those who have dementia. The program is intended to make the community into “better stewards” should they encounter someone with dementia.

“You don’t want to yell at people with dementia or make them more nervous if they are lost and confused,” Litwinczyk said. “You also don’t want to pepper them with a lot of quick questions. This program will teach you ways to get them to give you the contact information of their caretaker. They might not initially want to give out the phone number since there is often a little paranoia associated with the illness. This program will teach you how to converse with them in a non-threatening manner.”

The Dementia Friends initiative also can offer programs for businesses, where “Dementia Champions” hold sessions tailored to their field. A “Dementia Friend” is someone who had completed the program. A “Dementia Champion” has undergone further training and is instructed on how to teach the program to others.

Litwinczyk said that the pandemic had put the Dementia Friends program on the “back burner” right when it was beginning to build momentum. Previously, classes were held in-person with a person living with dementia. She had also established a support group and a Memory Café for dementia patients. Now, she is adjusting the program to Zoom meetings and building momentum again.

“Memory Cafes were a social group that we started pre-pandemic,” she said. “Typically it was about getting a group of people with dementia and their care partners in the same room for a big social hour. It was purely a social group. But, we’ve had to switch gears to Zoom meetings, which has been very challenging as we’re dealing with a population that doesn’t have a lot of tech savviness.”

Litwinczyk said that the pandemic has “wreaked havoc” with dementia patients in general. “When I met with a dementia client I would establish a ‘brain healthy program’ which includes socialization and making sure that they are getting out with friends and family and feel like they have a purpose,” she said. “With the pandemic, this type of scenario is not possible. For many patients, their dementia is getting worse.” Litwinczyk said she hopes to be able to resume the Memory Café and other programs once COVID-19 restrictions are eased.

Making Bristol a Dementia Friendly Community is an objective that United Way of West Central Connecticut will strive toward in partnership with Bristol Health, Barnes Group Foundation, Bristol Senior Center, Central CT Chambers of Commerce, and the Sky Bight Foundation.

“We would love to see more people and businesses participate and Bristol become a Dementia Friendly Community," Litwinczyk said. The next session will be on Wednesday, June 23 as part of the Central CT Chambers Of Commerce "Wellness Wednesday" series.
THANK YOU TO OUR CORPORATE SPONSORS
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Did you know that skipping 1 store bought coffee($4) a week will provide 6 counseling sessions and safety planning information and support for individuals.

Help us meet our "2021 Club Challenge" by donating a 21 dollar amount to help our community thrive. Donate today, just click here and become a hand raiser.