Taylor Deegan, general manager of Worldwide Wine & Spirits in Southington, is the United Way of Southington board president, Monday, February 6, 2023. Deegan has worked at non-profits previously such as Oak Hill in Hartford and the YMCA of Greater Hartford. Dave Zajac, Record-Journal
February 07, 2023 01:29PM
By Jesse Buchanan , Record-Journal staff
SOUTHINGTON — United Way officials say new leaders are bringing new energy to the group supporting local non-profits.
Taylor Deegan, general manager at Worldwide Wine & Spirits, is the United Way of Southington board president. He’s worked at non-profits previously such as Oak Hill in Hartford and the YMCA of Greater Hartford.
One of Deegan’s goals is raising the United Way’s profile in town.
“I’m excited to increase the awareness of the United Way and show what we do,” he said. “We’re going to really truly shine and support our community and our partners.”
Mark Berardi, development officer at the Connecticut Community Foundation, was elected board vice president. Kathy Hopko, a corporate attorney, was chosen as board secretary. Tim Vendetti, a finance vice president at Hubbell Electrical Solutions in Shelton, is treasurer.
The vote for new officers took place last month.
Support for United Way
Berardi said there’s strong support for the United Way among town residents.
“I think what we saw during the pandemic was the generosity of the Southington residents really shine through,” he said. “They supported us during a really challenging time.”
That support allowed the United Way to keep its level of aid to non-profits in town such as the YMCA, Bread for Life and Senior Transportation Services, a group that Berardi said is doing important work for Southington residents.
“Serving the aging population is something that’s near and dear to my heart,” he said. “I think with any thriving community, we need to be mindful of taking care of folks who are aging and aging in place.”
Berardi got on the board in 2019. Now past the pandemic, he’s optimistic about the group.
“We did have to pivot our fundraising efforts during COVID,” he said. “Now certainly the sky’s the limit.”
New members, new ideas
Previous board president Cheryl Lounsbury said she’d hoped to get younger members involved with the United Way.
“The board has changed tremendously,” she said. “It’s young professionals in town… They’ve come with a lot of new ideas and a lot of new enthusiasm and energy.”
Some of those new members were taking part in the YMCA’s polar plunge.
“When I first got there, we’d all die if we did the polar plunge,” Lounsbury joked.
Bringing in new people is important to keeping the United Way vibrant. Lounsbury was concerned that the board was mostly older, retired people.
“If you don’t change up with new people and new perspectives and ideas, they tend to do the same thing year after year. That’s not healthy” she said.
Lounsbury will remain as a board member.
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