The Soul of a City


A community rallies, an organization serves and a city rich in history looks to the future. This is Haverhill.

The Merrimack River flows with history on its banks, an artery that binds once-great cities of industry like Lawrence, Lowell and Manchester, NH together. Haverhill is one ofA4040-221 these cities, a one-time booming town that made its name in shoe manufacturing during the height of the Industrial Revolution, earning the nickname “The Queen Slipper City of the World.”

But you know the rest of the story. Like its sister cities, Haverhill took a series of economic body blows over the years. The vibrant shoe industry moved overseas and a fruitful relationshipC2040-920 with Western Electric & Lucent Technologies from the late 1940s through 2008 evaporated, eventually leaving Haverhill searching.

For fifty years, Community Action, Inc., a United Way partner agency, has served the people of Haverhill and Essex County, bearing witness to the ebb and flow of the city’s fortunes. Originally founded by local residents in 1964 to work together to address poverty, Community Action has since grown to be a presence in 11 cities and towns throughout the Northeast corner of Massachusetts. Continue reading

How United Way Women are Creating Tomorrow’s Leaders

This morning, more than 1,200 female business and community leaders came together to  celebrate the power of women for United Way’s 19th Annual Women’s Leadership Breakfast.  We always look forward to this one, as it is one of the year’s most inspiring events (in our own humble opinion!), and this year was no different.

Our amazing co-chairs shared their personal stories of why they are involvedA00-260 with United Way and the WLC, from experiencing United Way’s impact first-hand as part of a struggling community agency that needed support, to getting more and more involved through volunteering.

Keynote speaker Wes Moore talked about the difference between opportunity and potential, and reminded us that “Our job is to be as passionate about our own future as theirs, because the two are unbelievably intertwined.”

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50 Days of Thanks

At United Way, we have a lot to be thankful for:

  • A network of 185 high-performing community-based organizations that make a difference in our community every day.
  • 60,000 donors that support our work with their generosity.
  • Volunteers who graciously give their time and talent to help others.
  • ‘Tis the season for pumpkin spice and apple cider.

And we want to celebrate ALL of that!

As today marks 50 days until Thanksgiving, we are kicking off a #50DaysofThanks social media campaign and will be posting every day on Facebook and Twitter something that United Way staff, community partners, and friends are thankful for – anything from the most gratifying aspects of our work, to a day of beautiful fall sunshine. Continue reading

United Way’s PE/VC Associates Map Out a Unique Volunteer Opportunity

The wind wreaked havoc with the stencils, but the country music kept everyone going strong. On September 20, on a breezy, balmy day in Mattapan, members from United Way’s Private Equity/Venture Capital Associate Council converged on Dr. Catherine Ellison-Rosa Parks Early Education School forEX200 a unique volunteer opportunity.

Their mission: to paint a huge, full-color map of the world on an otherwise blank playground. It was easier said than done, especially when the bluster kicked up and the paint started to splatter. Not to be deterred, the volunteers put their heads down, powered through, cranked the Jason Aldean, and by day’s end, the map was a masterpiece.

“With my job schedule, it’s nearly impossible to find meaningful time during the week to get involved with the community,” said Suruchi Mehta of Riverside Partners. “So, giving up a Saturday is a fun way to get more in touch with the local community and help others out and it’s a great way to add642-812 something different to my usual weekend activities.”
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The Great India Adventure: Greetings from Across the World!


United Way staff and the Project YELL Youth Venture team from Lynn have embarked on the adventure of a lifetime, going to India to participate in the international Design for Change conference, meeting other like-minded youth focused on social impactA2180-371 and seeing the sights of a foreign country. Our own Sunindiya Bhalla has been dispatching real-time updates. Enjoy!

After traveling for over 24 hours straight, two layovers, three flights, and four airports later we made it to Ahmedabad in one piece! The kids are champs, not a single complaint and just so excited by everything! The kids are embracing Indian food and were not at all scared by the deathFD0-510 defying car and bus rides over the roller-coaster like rides full of potholes and horn-honking.

We definitely sweated off a few pounds in the sunny, humid 97 degrees yesterday. Our hotel is very modern. We are staying here with teams from 20 other countries!  Our Lynn team did an awesome job performing their song (really, not being biased here, they were by far one of the best) during country performances.  You can listen to the song here!

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Donors from John Hancock Get a First-Hand Look at the Power of their Gifts

On a gorgeous Fall day, a group of donors were given a great opportunity to see, up close and personal, how their support is changing lives.

As part of the John Hancock campaign, United Way and the volunteer engagement team took donors out to see their impact in the community first hand. They learned about the collaborations among United Way partner agencies and got an in depth look at community revitalization and development in the Hyde/Jackson neighborhood of Jamaica Plain (read more about the project here).

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Wild World of Learning in Waltham

The road to school readiness can be as easy as a walk in the park! Visit our new Learning Trail in Waltham, or turn a visit to your local playground in a Brain Building Zone for children by exploring the shapes, colors, and sounds of the natural world.

Tips for Brain Building at your local park:

  • Look for shapes in the clouds
  • See how your shadow changes when you move
  • Compare the different colors and shapes of leaves from the trees
  • Look for different shapes in the signs or playground equipment
  • Count the steps from car to playground


Mayor Jeannette McCarthy, United Way and Sallie Mae Cut the Ribbon on New Waltham Learning Trail for Area Children

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Video: Day of Caring a Force for Good in the Greater Seacoast

“The only thing that can’t come down is the monkey!”

Pati Frew-Waters, Executive Director of Seacoast Family Promise in Stratham, dashes to the middle of the room and explains to the onlookers. The funny-looking stuffed monkey, she says, represents not only levity for kids who are in a heavy situation, but also structure. You can look at the monkey but you can’t take him down. Those are the rules. And like any home, you have to follow the rules.

It’s an anecdote that helps Frew-Waters educate new people about the work being done at Seacoast Family Promise, a shelter that leverages a network of faith communities to provide temporary housing for homeless families. The audience in this instance was a group of 11 volunteers from Lindt & Sprungli, gathered to help scrub, wash, paint, dust, weed and trim for the annual United Way Day of Caring.


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A Special Day of Service

On an important day for our nation that has since become an occasion for remembrance and service to our community, members of United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) spent their morning on September 11, 2014 reading with children in 5 Boston neighborhoods, joined by 10 female Boston Police officers as special guest readers.

The inaugural WLC Read to Succeed Day brought together more than 50 women (and a few good men),  including volunteer teams from Brown Brothers Harriman, Sun Life Financial, P&G Gillette, John Hancock and Alex & Ani, who all enjoyed sharing their time with local children in Allston, Dorchester, East Boston, Roxbury, and the South End.

See more photos in the Facebook album

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A Change of Plans


What happens when the course you plotted for your life unexpectedly shifts? Sometimes, great things.

Travis Harris had it all planned. A political science major at George Washington University, he had an eye on politics, making a difference in a big way, on the grandest of stages. Then he worked in his first campaign and promptly realized it was not for him.

His abrupt career change led him to Spain, and a job as an English teacher. He taught elementary school for the first year and middle and high school the next. At nights he taught adults. He even squeezed some time in the morning to tutor preschoolers.  Travis was a teacher. And he loved it.

Now, he’s wrapping up a one-year experience as a member of AmeriCorps (which is celebrating its 20th year this year). He served in Lynn, part of United Way’s targeted initiative to help families and children achieve academic success. He is one of 12 team members, placed at different agencies serving Lynn, working in concert to make a difference in the city.

“As a teacher, you get to give presentations every day and lead a group,” Travis says. “And you have to be creative. You can plan and plan, but if something goes wrong you have to be able to be improvise.”

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