WATERBURY - The Salvation Army in Waterbury’s 10th Annual Kettle Kickoff Dinner was held on November 1st at the Ponte Club, La Bella Vista Restaurant in Waterbury. The facility was beautifully decorated with red roses, red up-lighting and holiday music playing in the background, giving a festive feel to the room the day after Halloween.
The event opened with a welcome from the evening’s host Tom Chute of WATR, recipient of last year’s Other’s Award. Chute introduced Major James and Kathryn Purvis who recognized The Salvation Army staff and Advisory Board members for putting the event together.
Major Jorge Marzan, Divisional Commander of The Salvation Army in CT & RI spoke to the crowd “You make a difference, not only with The Salvation Army, but in other organizations within the community. Those who come to our doors are looking for hope; for a new beginning. Thank you for all you do.”
Commissioners William and Lorraine Bamford, who attended the first annual Kettle Kickoff 10 years ago, joined in the festivities this year. Currently, they serve in the USA Eastern Territory as Territorial Commander and Territorial President of Women’s Ministries, respectively. In speaking to the group, Commissioner Lorraine Bamford said, “People in every single zip code in the United States can receive help from The Salvation Army. We thank you for your part in that.” “We cannot do this alone,” said Commissioner William Bamford. “We will never surrender and give up reaching people and communities and changing lives. May we continue to rise up as a body of believers, as a community, so people will find peace and hope and joy in life.”
Community awards were given to residents of the Greater Waterbury area who make an impactful difference in their community. The Community Partnership Award was presented to Stewart EFI. For the last 29 years, Stewart EFI has conducted a successful toy drive for The Salvation Army of Greater Waterbury, and brought smiles to the faces of countless children who received toys and gifts during the holidays through their generosity. Stewart EFI ranks among the largest international suppliers of precision metal, deep drawn, progressive die and slide-formed metal stamped components, wire forms, automated and secondary assemblies, plating and metal finishing services.
The Veterans’ Service Award was given to Michael J. Dalton. Dalton entered the United States Army on November 29, 1966. While in Vietnam, he served in different capacities and duty stations located in DaNag, Pleiku, Phan Thiet at LZ Betty and in January 1968 in Hue. He received his combat infantry badge for the responsibility of a radio operator while out on patrols. He was awarded the Army Commendation, National Defense, Good Conduct, TET Campaign, Connecticut War Time Service, Waterbury Veterans Memorial Committee Medals and two overseas bars. His unit received the Merit Unit Commendation. Currently, Dalton volunteers for The Salvation Army, Literacy Program and has sponsored the Latino Youth summer basketball program.
The Holiday Award is given annually to recognize one who shows a generous spirit and desire to make Christmas bright for others and was awarded to the Waterbury Chapter of UNICO National. Waterbury UNICO has annually supported The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign since its inception. Annual endeavors also include hosting a Christmas party for WARC program participants and sponsoring the delivery of Columbus Day meals to homebound seniors through Meals on Wheels.
The Community Service Award is bestowed upon a group or individual who works to make Waterbury a better place to live, work and play. The award honors those who are community builders, who seek a healthy community and do so through their contributions and commitments. This award was given to Charles J. Boulier, III, Chief Executive Officer of Ion Bank and its parent company Ion Financial, MHC. Boulier is Director of Ion Bank Foundation and Chairman of the American Savings Foundation and America’s Mutual Banks. He is a board member for the Waterbury Chamber of Commerce and Saint Mary’s Hospital Foundation. He also serves on the United Way of Greater Waterbury 2018/19 Campaign Council that he chaired in 2017/18, the Investment Committee of the Connecticut Community Foundation, Quinnipiac University business school advisory board and a Corporator for Griffin Hospital. In 2010, he was named the United Way Naugatuck & Beacon Falls Campaign Coordinator of the Year.
A number of people helped through The Salvation Army’s Rapid Rehousing Program were recognized for their hard work in overcoming obstacles of homelessness and addiction. This housing program receives referrals from individuals and families currently experiencing homelessness. The program provides 6-12 months of rental assistance while providing case management to the household to ensure they are being prepared to live independently when the household graduates from the program. This program has on-going seminars and classes available on budget and employment, tenant responsibilities and more. “I honestly cannot tell you in words how I feel when I open an apartment door and a little child is pulling me in to see their bedroom that they never had before – there’s no better feeling than that,” said Rebecca Rioux, Social Worker with The Salvation Army. “If it wasn’t for The Salvation Army helping these individuals get into programs and housing, who knows where they would be. When you can see a life changed—that’s priceless.”
“I truly don’t know where I would be without The Salvation Army,” said one recipient. “I’m hopeful for the future. The sky’s the limit.” “I was working, I had my children, I had a home, I worked a great job,” said another recipient. “A few things happened in my life and I lost everything. The rapid rehousing program saved my life. I’m in a better place now then I was before I was in the shelter.”
“Before I found The Salvation Army, I was in a very dark place,” said another. “I found myself struggling with addiction and homeless. The Salvation Army guided me when I found myself at my lowest. I thought the light at the end of the tunnel was turned off for me for so long and now it’s shinning brighter than it ever has.”
“Rapid Rehousing saved my life,” said Melanie. “It brought me to another place in my life I didn’t think I would get to in that time frame without this program. Really, I don’t know where my girls and I would be at this moment. There is hope not to give up. When things are falling apart there are some things that are falling together. I’m in a better place than ever before.”
“The Salvation Army has guided me when I was at the lowest of low points,” said Kim. “I’m on the right track. I’m in a much better place that I ever was. The light at the end of the tunnel is shining bright. I’m forever grateful for The Salvation Army.”
“There’s a better world for tomorrow,” said Major James Purvis. “It’s giving them a second chance and hope that they are looking for and that’s why I get so excited to come to work every day. I see our staff making a difference in people’s lives and see lives change."
The need for holiday assistance has grown from previous years. Last year, 750 children were in need of Christmas toys. “We’ve had over 400 families sign up for Christmas assistance this year,” said Major James Purvis. 1,000 children will open toys on Christmas morning thanks to the generosity of donors who organize and participate in toy drives, food drives and angel trees. This year, 200 families will be receiving items for a Thanksgiving dinner.
The Connecticut Community Foundation matched $1,000 in donations brought in from The Salvation Army’s Mobile Red Kettle. Proceeds from the event go toward supporting The Salvation Army’s efforts to assist those in need in our community during this holiday and winter season.