Monday, March 30, 2015

Agency Highlight: Brockton Visiting Nurse Association

(BVNA's Historic Sign)
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Beverly Pavasaris, the President of the Brockton Visiting Nurse Association (BVNA).  It was fascinating to learn how the BVNA has utilized its partnership with the United Way to further expand its service to the surrounding area.  United Way of Greater Plymouth County helps to fund the BVNA's Provision of Home and Health Care for Underinsured/Uninsured Elders.  This initiative has three specific goals: improvement in management of oral medication, improve patients' grooming abilities and improve ambulation within the home.  Beverly feels strongly that our synergy has allowed the community to receive additional care and services that normally would exceed expense limitations.  "Our partnership offers amazing value," Beverly exclaimed.  From our conversation, I could see that Beverly's passion and dedication to serving the community radiates throughout the organization as a whole. 

The BVNA's foundation dates back to 1904.  Back then, all of the services were conducted by a single nurse.  Treatment was labor intensive and transportation consisted of walking and horse and "pung" (a sleigh with a box-like body).   It wasn't until 1966 when Medicare and Medicaid legislation was introduced that the idea of home healthcare became a focal point in society.

Today, the BVNA provides home care services to over 30 communities in Southeastern Massachusetts, with an average daily census of nearly 900 patients.  Their staff consists of over 100 nurses, therapists, and home heath aids that make more than 1,700 visits per week.  In order to maintain their high level of quality care, they strive for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's (IHI) "Triple Aim" of superior outcomes, exceptional patient experiences, and cost-effective care through population health strategies.  Beverly felt strongly that the BVNA's success was a product of partnering with community organizations.

The BVNA provides prevention, treatment, and educational services in order to provide holistic care to the surrounding community.  Their importance in society stems from the changing needs in the healthcare system.  Their services allow people to receive quality treatment in a comfortable and familiar place without hospitalization.  The BVNA offers a wide variety of patient services such as cardiac care, respiratory care, IV therapy, diabetes, oncology, wound care, complex health care, chronic care management, palliative care, pediatric care, and rehabilitation. 

Having the opportunity to step inside such a unique and community driven organization was a true pleasure. The services the BVNA provides make them an indispensable asset to our community.  If you are interested in learning more about the BVNA, check out their website at

-Reese Bomberger Stonehill College, Class of 2016, Marketing Intern  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

United Way of Greater Plymouth County's 93rd Annual Campaign Kick-Off & Day of Caring

Friday, September 12th 
8:00AM (Program will start promptly at 8:30 AM)
Plymouth Waterfront in front of the Mayflower II

It is not too late to submit volunteer projects or to get a team of volunteers together for this year’s Day of Caring! So far, we have received a number of terrific projects including painting, cleaning, outdoor lawn work/gardening and weeding, organizing classrooms and food pantries and hope to see the list continue to grow!

Contact Kim Allen at, 508-583-6306 for more information and to sign up.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

United Way Community Needs Assessment

United Way of Southeastern MA:
 Community Needs Assessment
What do you think?

A regional Community Needs Assessment was recently conducted on our behalf by Bridgewater State University.  Here are some quick facts on the Assessment:

*Responses were collected in the last week of October and the first week of November 2013

*150 surveys were attempted by key stakeholders of our community partners in the region, with useful data collected from approximately 120 respondents

*The assessment covers the areas served by:
United Way of the Cape and the Islands

United Way of Greater Attleboro/Taunton
United Way of Greater Fall River
United Way of Greater New Bedford
United Way of Greater Plymouth County 

Below is the Executive Summary of the Needs Assessment.  We would love to hear your feedback!  What do you think of the findings?  What are your thoughts on the most pressing needs identified?  Do you agree with the list? Would you add others?

“The purpose of the 2014 United Ways of Southeastern MA Community Needs Assessment is to identify the most pressing concerns in the region and inform program delivery goals in the regions served by the United Ways Cape and Islands, Greater Attleboro/Taunton, Greater Fall River, Greater New Bedford and Greater Plymouth County.  The survey was distributed by each local United Way entity to leaders of organizations located in or providing services within the United Way service area.  Responses were collected in the last week of October and the first week of November 2013 using Qualtrics survey software.  One hundred fifty surveys were attempted and useful data collected from approximately 120 respondents. 

The survey collected information about service priorities and gaps in three broad areas:  education, economic self-sufficiency and health.  Respondents identified the most significant barriers faced by clients attempting to access services, existing services that the organization would like to expand and services that they would like to develop.  

If organizations could expand one of their current services they would prioritize:
•             Youth development
•             Housing/housing vouchers/rent
•             Providing more basic amenities/emergency services (food, shelter, clothing) to clients
•             Health/wellness services
If organizations could create one new service they would prioritize:
•             Education support/tutoring
•             Outreach/home-based services
•             Youth development/At-risk services

Priorities and Gaps:
Lack of transportation was identified as the most significant barrier to accessing existing services.
Respondents prioritized a list of services and assessed how well the needs in that area are being met.  The gap between these two measures is an indication of the need for enhanced services in that area.

Education (child, youth, adult) – Gaps were identified in all categories of education.  The largest gaps were reported in early intervention to address behavioral issues, wrap-around services for students from low-income families, bullying prevention, parenting education, tutoring for youth, professional skill training, technological skills building and vocational/trades training.

Economic Self-Sufficiency– Gaps were identified in all categories related to jobs and emergency funding.  The largest gaps are reported in finding jobs and job training and placement.  Large gaps were also reported in financial help for clients needing financial assistance during a crisis, housing and transitional housing, community shelters and transportation. Gaps were narrower or met in the categories of financial planning and financial literacy, though large unmet needs in budgeting/bill paying and financial literacy training were noted. 

Health and Wellness – Gaps were identified in all categories of health and wellness with the exception of falls prevention and hospice care.  The largest gaps are in oral and dental health services, especially for under or uninsured persons.  Large unmet need was reported for in-home direct mental health services, mental health assessment or counseling and psychiatric care and access to healthy food choices.

The leaders were asked to suggest priorities for the United Way in education, self-sufficiency and health for the next five years.  The three most frequently mentioned priorities in each category are:
·         Education
·         Graduation rates/retention
·         Vocational training
·         Affordable early childhood programs
·         Economic Self-Sufficiency
·         Housing
·         Employment
·         Financial literacy/security
·         Health and Wellness
·         Wellness education/nutrition/physical fitness
·         Prevention services
·         Substance abuse issues and services for the aging population (tied)"

We encourage you to comment below!

Friday, December 13, 2013

My Internship Experience

My name is Michael Lee, I am a Senior marketing major, Communication Minor at Stonehill College.  2013 has been an exciting year for me between studying abroad in Rome earlier this year, to living in New York City for an advertising agency internship, and now here at United Way of Greater Plymouth County as the marketing intern. 

I wanted to intern at UWGPC to bolster my resume with another marketing internship.  But I feel that I have gotten so much more out of my experience than that.  I really had no idea what to expect from working with a non-profit because I simply had no prior experience working in the non-profit sector.   

Without working at UWGPC or any other non-profits, you would have no idea the amount of challenges that they have to overcome.  I wrote a blog earlier this year about Dan Pallota’s TED talk about “how we think about non-profits all wrong.”  It’s true; non-profits have the most limited resources yet the most restrictions.  With all of the restrictions the need for volunteers has never been more important.  And that’s where I came in for UWGPC.

My intern duties included taking charge of the social media presence for UWGPC, designing and sending out our Constant Contact e-newsletters, conducting site visits with United Way’s partner agency interviews and writing articles.  I feel lucky that I was able to learn many different important skills that I’m going to be able to use in any area of the business world.  I especially loved the agency visits to other partners like the Family Life Center at the Y, the Brockton Area Workforce Investment Board, and Mayflower RSVP.  The visits are interesting as you get to see all of the challenges that the agencies have to deal with everyday as well as the positive impact that they have on the local community.  Some of the things that I saw at these local non-profits are things that I will remember for the rest of my life. 

I want to personally thank all of the dedicated UWGPC staff especially Kim Allen who was responsible for making sure I always had work to do and teaching me a lot of the valuable skills needed to complete all of the marketing intern tasks.  I couldn’t recommend this internship enough to anyone looking to learn important skills needed to succeed later in life. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Senior Healthy Living with Mayflower RSVP

Darcy Lee has been Executive Director at Mayflower RSVP for just over a year.  With a small, but dedicated staff of only three people (two full-time and one part-time) she has certainly had her hands full since taking the lead.   She has already made major improvements, including raising the agency’s visibility in the community, creating new programs and devising a plan for the organization’s future!

All of Mayflower RSVP’s volunteers are over the age of 55 and many have active and busy lives.  Volunteering is sometimes one of many things they do.   With RSVP’s liability insurance the seniors are fully insured for any volunteer work that they do; a major selling point with most of these volunteers.   Volunteers make an impact when they help out in the community, and by doing so, also contribute to their own well-being.  According to Darcy, “We provide volunteers with a variety of different opportunities.  Seniors can choose between one day, short-term, or long term assignments.  For example, one volunteer may spend a few hours helping to stuff a mailing, while another spends an hour a week tutoring a child." Mayflower RSVP volunteers are all members of the Corporation for National and Community Service’s (CNCS) Senior Corps.  Along with other CNCS programs, like Americorps, Senior Corps volunteers are part of a national volunteer movement. 

“We provide volunteers with a variety of different opportunities.  Seniors can choose between one day, short-term, or long term assignments.” –Darcy Lee

(Michael Lee Marketing Intern at UWGPC and Darcy Lee Executive Director at Mayflower RSVP)
Volunteering has huge health benefits for seniors.  Research has shown that volunteers live longer because volunteering can provide seniors a sense of purpose.  It is also a great way to stay connected and active in the community in which they live.   As the population in America continues to age (1 in 5 Americans will be over 60 by 2030) it is becoming more important to find different ways to keep our seniors volunteering and healthy, and Mayflower RSVP allows them to    do just that! 

United Way of Greater Plymouth County funds two of Mayflower RSVP initiatives.   The first is called “Hunger Among Homeless” where senior citizens can volunteer in cooking, transporting and distributing food to local homeless individuals and families.  The second is the “Senior Healthy Independent Living” initiative.  Volunteers visit seniors who can’t physically leave their home check in on them, bring them Meals on Wheels, check on their safety and well-being.  Darcy says, “for some of these seniors the RSVP volunteers are the only people that they have regular conversations with. “

Darcy has also created an innovative program in which senior volunteers, who are also war veterans, can send letters to current soldiers overseas and thank them for their service.   As these letters come from someone who has served for our country in the past, it means a great deal to the soldiers defending our freedom! 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Gratitude: An Inexhaustible Resource That Keeps on Giving

By Dennis Carman, President & CEO
United Way of Greater Plymouth County

Many of us have lived through days, months and sometimes years where the money coming in didn’t cover even the basic costs for food, heat and housing.  And if we’ve been fortunate enough not to have had to worry about that, it’s hard to imagine that we do not know family, friends or neighbors who have struggled to get by or who have fallen under the wheel.  Times have been very hard for quite some time now.  In the midst of these hard times and the frustrations that accompany them, we often fail to see one of the more valuable and readily available resources:   gratitude.

The online Oxford Dictionary defines gratitude as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”  But being grateful, showing appreciation or counting our blessings is certainly hard, if not impossible, in the face of our many troubles.   So, why do it?  Why be thankful?

Well, research conducted by Dr. Robert A. Emmons, PhD, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, and his associates clearly demonstrates the many powerful benefits of gratitude.  In 2010 they studied more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of physical, psychological and social benefits:
• Stronger immune systems
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Exercise more and take better care of their health
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness
• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated.

Beyond these benefits, practicing gratitude has a number of additional pragmatic advantages.  First, it doesn’t really cost anything to be grateful, certainly not monetarily.  Nor is there any significant physical effort required to be thankful.  There may be time expended in thoughtfully counting our blessings, and some minimal effort expended in expressing our thanks to those who have either given us something or helped us in some way.  Certainly, for those who have received a great deal, there would be commensurately greater time and energy expended than someone who has not received as much, but still no strenuous effort is involved.

Second, being grateful or giving thanks for one thing does not in any way reduce our ability to be appreciative of other things.  For example, we can be thankful for a beautiful day without taking away our capacity to be grateful for a neighbor who helped us lift a heavy piece of furniture or who cooked us a meal when we were sick.  There is no finite or upper limit to gratitude.  If we are willing and able to count our blessings, we can be ever and endlessly thankful for them.

Finally, we respond very positively to someone who expresses gratitude to us, whether for just being who they are or for doing something good or generous.  People just plain like being thanked.  And whether or not it is the intention of the one offering their appreciation, very often receiving thanks encourages the giver to continue giving or helping, either in service of the person who just offered thanks or to others.  So good deeds done, kindnesses shone and generosities extended that are appreciated will tend to lead to more good deeds, kindnesses and generosity that will be appreciated.  Thus, there is a perpetual chain-reaction of good things happening.

So in spite of our individual and collective troubles, as we approach Thanksgiving, our other holidays and every day for that matter, we should seriously consider practicing and encouraging “gratitude”.  And to put into practice what I am preaching, let me say thank you to all who have made financial donations to our United Way and other charitable organizations, and thank you to our community partners and to all of our hundreds of volunteers for generously giving their time and talents to support our mission of “uniting people, ideas and resources to improve lives”.  And on a very personal note, thank you to my Lord and Savior for the gift of Creation, the gift of Forgiveness and the gift of His Grace and Love, thank you to my wife for her years of support and devotion, and thank you to my family and friends for putting up with all of my eccentrities!

Our times may be tough, and very likely many of us may not have all of what we need to have a good life, so we must keep working together to care for our family, our friends and our neighbors.  And in the meantime, we can express gratitude for what we do have!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

“EngaGED”: Youth Works and Brockton Area Workforce Investment Board (BAWIB)

By: Mike Lee, UWGPC Marketing Intern

“EngaGED” is an innovative jobs initiative of Youth Works, a branch underneath Brockton Area Workforce Investment Board (BAWIB), one of the United Way’s partner agencies, located on School Street in Brockton.    Youth Works helps unemployed young adults between the ages of 16-21, who have not yet completed school, and who are looking to get a job. The initiative serves youth in the city of Brockton, and the towns of Abington, Avon, Bridgewater, Easton, East Bridgewater, Hanson, Stoughton, West Bridgewater and Whitman.

BAWIB Executive Director Sheila Sullivan-Jardim and Youth Works Associate Andy Martin provided a tour of the Youth Works center and talked passionately about how they’re getting youth off the streets and getting them into their center to provide them with vital educational services.  Due to the national economic downturn, the job market in the greater Brockton area is poor causing problems even for youth who have graduated from high school.  Because of this, the EngaGED initiative is helping young adults who have not graduated from high school to get their GED (general equivalency diploma) and to find a job.  Without Youth Works many of these kids would never have a chance at having a well-paying job or a stable life at home.

EngaGED participants take an entrance exam to assess their current skill levels.  This allows the participants to improve in the areas where they are deficient and they can skip areas where they are already proficient.   Youth Works staff use a webserver to grade and post assignments, and to monitor the progress of students in the program.   EngaGED students and teachers can access one of Youth Work’s computer resources “remotely” from home or other locations making the education process incredibly convenient.

(BAWIB computer lab where kids complete assignments and apply for jobs)

The “Hot Jobs” board shows the young adults of Youth Works how to apply, skills required, wages, location, and any other information important to the applying process of a job.  Youth Works is able to measure results by how many youth and young adults utilize their computers, how many graduate from their programs, and ultimately how many of their participants get a job.

In fact, Youth Works and BAWIB are always actively searching for more entry-level jobs from local employers, so if your company has available positions, please contact them.

(Young adults find out how to apply for brand new jobs in the area)

In speaking with one of the male students from EngaGED, it was inspiring to see how thankful he was for the amazing opportunities that Youth Works and BAWIB has given him, a GED, a new job and a new outlook on life!   His favorite part of the program was the personal guidance and teaching that he received from the youth service associates, like Andy.   His greatest satisfaction is that now he can help support his family.