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Charity Remains a Part of Westporter's Life

WESTPORT, Conn. — Tom Green walked through the south side of Chicago as a child by his mother's side, collecting donations for local charities. Now decades later, the Westport resident is helping make the most of its donors investments.

“Someone has to pay attention to what is going on in the community, and United Way does that,” says Green. He's worked with community councils and charities since those days in Chicago. Now he is chair of United Way of Coastal Fairfield County ’s Community Impact and Investment Strategy Committee.

There are challenges affecting families in all of its twelve towns. Green says that although a town like Westport is prosperous, it is seeing people struggling and therefore the issue of homelessness and hunger has become a concern. United Way’s work helps address this, and is one of the reasons he is involved.

When asked about the programs, he talks about the educational programs in the schools, including a mentoring program showing success in Bridgeport and targeted soon for Norwalk. Green was a teacher in Westport for 30 years, so his interest in educational programs isn't surprising.

Green expects United Way of Coastal Fairfield to invest $2.1 million in the community this year. In addition to the education initiatives like Wi-mentor and the Schools of Hope, United Way also invests in programs that help families get back on their feet financially, and health programs that provide access to healthcare and making healthy living and eating choices.

One of the programs that has been in place for three years has been a direct response to the economy and the increase in people who are unemployed or underemployed. The Neighbors Helping Neighbors initiative, partnership with GE Foundation, has brought over $600,000 in the community to organizations that provide basic needs such as provide food and shelter.

The economic downturn has affected some of the grants and contributions to United Way of Coastal Fairfield, but Green is happy to say it has maintained program growth. “We aren't shrinking, but it is tough. It is now a world where one looks at every possible resource,” he says.

Green knows those walks with his mother in Chicago instilled in him a need to help others. That's one of the reasons he became a teacher and why he volunteers with United Way. “I think my parents thought I would be a doctor, like my father. I always knew I would like to help people in the community. I just like helping,” he says.

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