WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — For eight years, the Connecticut Community Foundation has raised millions of dollars for nonprofit groups in the greater Waterbury and Litchfield Hills areas.
But, in the era of coronavirus, organizers said they were worried that people wouldn’t have the financial means to donate.
They were wrong.
With one hour left of this year’s fundraising effort, more than 6,000 people stepped up to donate more than $1.7 million to 250 area nonprofits.
One of those nonprofits is Meals on Wheels. On Wednesday, News 8 witnessed the impact of that program when Meals on Wheels driver, Rodney Overton, let reporter LaSalle Blanks tag along for one of his deliveries to a Waterbury senior who’s worried about her boyfriend. Because of his health issues, going outside puts him at high risk of getting COVID-19. The only way for him to get the food he needs is when Overton comes up to the house with bags in hand.
“My boyfriend lives with cirrhosis of the liver and diabetes two,” said Joanne Adomavacia, holding back tears. “They have done many miracles for him. They kept him alive. They kept him eating well.”
“That makes me feel wonderful, man,” Overton added. “Because I’m out here on the front lines of this coronavirus epidemic and really helping out the senior citizens and people who really need these meals.”
Meals on Wheels now prepares 1,300 meals a day. It is seeing a 30 percent increase in the number of new clients, and the impact of the coronavirus is hurting the organization’s pocketbooks.
“It means we have to order more food, we have to expand our drivers’ routes so they’re working longer hours,” said Mike Corey, Director of Senior Services for New Opportunities, Inc., which runs Meals on Wheels in Waterbury.
Corey said the nonprofit would be in deep trouble without the CCF’s Give Local campaign and without the generosity of people in the community showing they care.
“Donations from the community — from the citizens of greater Waterbury — really do help make sure that we can keep providing meals to our seniors,” Corey said.
Under the Give Local campaign, anyone could make a donation on the Connecticut Community Foundation’s website up until 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The CCF would match the donation or the participating nonprofits could compete for “bonus bucks” from a CCF fund made up of money donated by corporate sponsors, like The Ion Bank Foundation. The President and CEO of The Connecticut Community Foundation told News 8 in the eight years of Give Local, this year is one of the best in terms of dollars and donors.
“It really blew me away,” said Julie Loughran. “It really shows Connecticut’s heart. We are all in this together.”