Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving traditions

Today is one of my favorite days of the year, and the official kickoff to the holiday season for me. There are two great events that I participate in every year two days before Thanksgiving - The Derby/Shelton Rotary Club football luncheon and the Boys & Girls Club's Keystone Club dinner for Shelton seniors.

The Rotary club luncheon is a tradition that dates back decades and was preceded by many other similar community events. basically, the Rotary Club invites the coaches, senior members of the the football and cheerleading squads, school administrators and mayors to lunch to celebrate the importance of the thanksgiving Day game. This year the luncheon took on special meaning as Shelton is hosting what is being advertised as the 100th game - that's a story for another day. They have invited anyone who ever played in the game to come on the field at halftime on Thursday to be recognized. At the start of the game, the two oldest living players from both schools who played in the game - Fran Saldamarco of Derby and Jim Braccnaro of Shelton - will toss the coin.

What makes the Rotary event so special is that each team brings back a former player to talk about their experiences. This year Rotary member Jon Wetmore was the speaker for Shelton and Dan Shea was the speaker for Derby, and they both did an excellent and very motivational job. I'm sure their stories will appear on the Rotary website.

The end of the day is just as exciting as the keystone Club members conduct a very special inter-generational event for the members of the Shelton Senior Center. The cook and serve a Thanksgiving dinner complete with turkey and all the trimmings for the seniors. The Keystone Club has won numerous national awards for their work, but I think that this dinner is one of the best things that they do. I've been fortunate to have attended for about 20 years now, but the tradition goes back much longer than that.

Besides serving the dinner, they also provide the entertainment and conduct a special drawing for a variety of special raffle prizes. It's also the first day of they year for Christmas carols as the seniors condut a great sing-a-long.

What a great way to start the holiday season! My only regret is that it means two big meals on the same day. Oh well, I'll just have to jog a little longer for the next couple of days.

Thank you Derby/Shelton Rotary and the Keystone Club for giving us examples of what we have to be thankful for at this special time of the year.

For more information about Valley United Way, visit our website at www.valleyunitedway.org.

Commodore Hull Thanksgiving Day 5K Road Race - more than a race

Nine years ago, a group of us got together and planned for a new Thanksgiving Day event that would celebrate the cities of Derby and Shelton and one of the greatest naval heroes in U.S. history, Commodore Isaac Hull. Hull was born in Derby and also lived in Shelton. Our concept was a race through the downtowns of the two cities that would draw 150-200 runners for an early morning 5K race that would give people plenty of time to run, but still be able to get to the traditional Thanksgiving Day football games or back home in plenty of time for family reunions and turkeys.

That first year, we drew over 300 runners and quickly realized that what we were actually doing was starting a new Valley tradition that celebrates our rich history and also gave us an opportunity to raise some funds for a worthy local organization. We decided that would be the Boys & Girls Club which is just down the street from the starting line and an organization with great needs. I think we were hoping that the race might grow to attract 500 runners and we might be able to raise a couple of thousand dollars a year. We have done that and much more. For the third straight year, the race is sold out and we have expanded the number of runners to 650. We have tried to expand our limits responsibly as we want to ensure that we maintain the quality of the race and the experience of the runners. We would love to accommodate everyone that wants to run but within the limits of the resources (volunteers, sponsors, facilites) that we have available to us.

We have raised over $70,000 for the Boys & Girls Club during the first eight years, and should have a nice amount to add to that this year. We have also celebrated the accomplishments of Isaac Hull and brought thousands of people back into our historic and reviving downtowns.We also take the time to honor someone from the two cities who has a positive impact in the two communities as the official starter for the race. This year, it is retired Shelton school principal Frank Skoronski.This year, the Young Emerging Professionals group at the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce have joined the fun by adding a food drive to the event.

The race is only possible because we have great volunteers, the support of both our city governments, great sponsors and enthusiastic runners - 32 of which have run every race. So, if you're not busy on Thanksgiving morning and want to see the joy shared by over 650 people running like maniacs through the streets of Shelton and Derby, stop by and cheer the runners on.

You can find all the details on the race website.

For more information about Valley United Way, visit our website at www.valleyunitedway.org.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Back to School

Friday morning was a bit like being suspended in time for me, and that time was more than 20 years ago. Prior to coming to Valley United Way, I was a teacher for many years (I'm not saying how long!). A decade of that time was spent as the boys basketball coach at Shelton High School, and for six years I was a teacher in the Shelton school system - and two of those years were spent at the Shelton Intermediate School teaching history. Friday morning I was back, but in a much more modern building as part of the Junior Achievement business education program.

Though the building may be newer,  the classroom and the students were much the same as I left them years ago. In preparing for the class, I was pleased that the first lesson that I was to teach was related to immigration and its impact on the history of the U.S. I had taught that in the past, so I was comfortable with the subject. Within a couple of minutes, I had surveyed the class, and found that we had about a dozen different ethnic groups represented in the class of just over 20 students. They were more than willing to share their own families' unique experiences in coming to America, and I was more than happy to share the story of my grandfather's emigration to Connecticut from a small townland in County Limerick, Ireland more than a century ago.

We had a second session on the importance of agriculture, and being in a city with active and innovative farms made that an easy topic for discussion as well.

A third session centering on the California Gold Rush showed the value of natural resources and the creation of boom towns that resulted from the rush for gold. The students were quick to discern the growth of business that results from a sudden migration of people into an area whether it be for gold or other factors. That translated into a discussion of the "boom" that has taken place in Shelton particularly along the Rt. 8 corridor.

In no time at all, the class was over. I scrambled back to my JA materials to make sure that we had covered the "curriculum" for the day. We had! I was very pleased and impressed with the students that I had in my class. They were a bright and outgoing group who actively participated and had a great background knowledge of the material that we were covering.

I think it was a nice break from the regular classroom schedule for them and a great opportunity to learn about the world of business at the same time. I enjoyed myself, and I hope they did as well.

For more information about Valley United Way, visit our website at www.valleyunitedway.org.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

An Easier Way to Manage Volunteering

One of the great assets and strengths of the Valley community has always been its spirit of volunteerism. If you take a look around the Valley on any given day, you will see volunteers doing everything from cooking for the homeless to cleaning our rivers and manning our emergency services. Its a Valley characteristic that has served the community well over time.It's also something that Valley United Way believes in very strongly as shown by our commitment to having a Volunteer Center in the Valley.You can find a lot of information about the Volunteer Center and the great work being done on our website, but I want to take time today to discuss our "on-line" Volunteer Center - Volunteer Solutions.

We recognized a long time ago that a barrier for people who want to volunteer is finding out just what opportunities are available. At the same time, it has always been a challenge for groups who need volunteers to get the word out to the community about their needs. Our Volunteer Solutions website meets the needs of both groups - and does it at efficiently and free!

If you are looking to volunteer, all you have to do is go to the website (https://volunteer.truist.com/uwvalley/volunteer/). You can easily browse through listings of opportunities or of agencies looking for volunteers. You can also do a search by just about any criteria that you choose to find something that meets your time and talent. If you register, you can even customize the site so that it brings up your preferences when you log-in, or you can even have it periodically (As often as you choose) send you notices about opportunities that interest you.

If you are an agency that is looking for volunteers, you go to a different part of the website (https://volunteer.truist.com/uwvalley/agency/) to register. Once you register, you will fill in information about your group and then list your opportunities for potential volunteers to see. You can also create a wish list of items that your agency would like donated. If you are looking for Board members, you can also list those opportunities. If you have an event coming up, yuo can also post that on the calendar. It's possible to set up multiple people to administer your group's listing, and the group has full control over that once approved to use the system.

We are able to offer this great service thanks to a grant from the Raymond P. Lavietes Foundation.Ray was one of the best volunteers the Valley has ever seen, and we are grateful that his legacy includes the promotion of volunteerism in the Valley.

For more information about Valley United Way, visit our website at www.valleyunitedway.org.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Health Net Phasing Out

This morning's newspapers are full of stories about the impending layoffs of employees at Health Net of the Northeast here in Shelton, and it is a sad day for those employees and for the entire Valley community to see so many people losing their jobs and the Valley losing one of its best corportate citizens. They have certainly been great friends and supporters of Valley United Way during their time in the Valley, and we truly value that relationship.

One of the articles mentioned the state Labor Department's Rapid Response Team which it said will be responding to the employees with their outreach services detailing services such as unemployment and job training. Valley United Way participates in the Rapid Response Team, and we have been going to Health Net on a monthly basis throughout 2010 speaking to groups of employees who have already lost their jobs. We have another session coming up next week. My good friend Bill Purcell also attends the sessions and brings the backing of the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce to the effort.

As the articles have stated, Health Net is providing severance packages for the employees and in-house resources for things like preparing resumes and beginning a job search. They have taken the extra step of inviting the Labor Department to bring their services directly to the employees as well. The Labor Department brings in a variety of speakers who do a great job of thorougly explaining how unemployment works, how to apply and how to best use the services. They also explain what job training programs are available and how to access those programs. At a difficult time for the employees, the Labor Department eases the stress and uncertainty that all employees face when going through a job loss.

Ever since the tragic Latex Foam fire, we have been invited to participate in the Rapid Response team to talk about the wide range of services offered by non-profits in the community. We obviously focus on using the resources of 2-1-1 as the first place to go to learn about what is available in any community in the state.

It's challenging and rewarding at the same time to be speaking before employees that have been supporters of so many causes in the Valley including United Way. However, I think that they find it comforting to know that a wide variety of services are available, and that the community is interested in their well being.

We have done this many, many times during the last decade, and it is never easy. However, one of the messages that we always try to convey is hope for the future. The very building where Health Net is located gives proof of that. One of the first kickoffs for a United Way campaign when I became executive director of Valley United Way was held in the same building. It was a bittersweet day. Richardson-Vicks, another great company and outstanding corporate citizen, hosted the kickoff that day only hours after news broke that they would be leaving town and everyone would be losing their job. It was a gloomy day. Ironically, that was the only time that we have had a special guest speaker at our kickoff event. He was a tv and radio personality who went by the name of "Mr. Positive". His message about staying positive was soothing that day, and it is now as well.

Over time, Health Net moved into the building and brought with it new jobs and new hope. We are staying positive that the same thing will eventually happen this time.

For now, our thoughts and best wishes are with all the employees. We wish them the best in their job hunt and urge them to stay positive knowing that the community supports their efforts.

For more information about Valley United Way, visit our website at www.valleyunitedway.org.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Valley Philanthropy Council's "Art of Giving"

When the Valley Philantropy Council holds its annual "Art of Giving" art show beginning this weekend at the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce, it will have special meaning to all of us at Valley United Way. To start with, our Board Chair Mike Marcinek will be presented with the Distinguished Leader of the Year award for all that he has done for area nonprofits. Mike needs no additional acknowledgment here as his record of community involvement is second to none and a model of what good corporate leadership in our community is all about.

At the same time, I was thinking about United Way's role on the Council. Of course we are a member, but it goes way beyond that. When Jane Snaider served as the Director of Resource Development here at United Way, she came up with the idea of starting a group for professionals in the Valley involved with fund raising withing Valley nonprofits. The group began meeting, and over time evolved into the Valley Philanthropy Council.

Laurel Vicidomino now represents us at the meetings,but I want to acknowledge the role that Jane played in creating this Valley asset. Jane is still in the Valley and works with Barnum Financial Group here in Shelton.

For more information about Valley United Way, visit our website at www.valleyunitedway.org.

Monday, November 1, 2010

United Way legacy is its volunteer leadership

 The last few weeks have not left me with much time to update this blog because there have been so many good things going on at Valley United Way. We are in the midst of the Annual Community Campaign, and we have had some incredible campaigns this year with some unbelievable creativity. If you have been following our website, you would have seen executives dressed up as outlaws, corporate work spaces turned into golf courses and breakfast and dessert being served up to employees. We want to thank Iroquois Gas Transmission, BIC, and Blum Shapiro for some of those efforts. We also want to thank Larry Janesky for his generous incentive to the employees at Basement Systems as part of their campaign. And finally, we want to welcome Hubbell to the fold as they are running their first campaign for Valley United Way in their new Shelton location. Keep watching for campaign updates on the web.

Our Corporate Volunteer Council was presented with Birmingham group Health Services' "Corporate Good Neighbor Award", and our High School Council Volunteer Council held its first meeting of the year. Youth Leadership members elected their officers for the year, and they are getting ready for their annual allocations process. Nineteen agencies have also submitted applications for Special Needs Grants from Valley United Way which will be awarded in December.

However, what I wanted to really talk about today is the legacy left by the men and women who have headed the Valley United Way since its inception in 1968 when the United Funds and Community Chests in the Valley Came together as one regional organization. We finally got around to developing a listing of all those people who served as presidents, board chairs and campaign chairs down through the years and have posted them on our website. It's quite a listing, and I would urge you to take a look. You can find it at http://www.valleyunitedway.org/board.html.

We have been very fortunate to have had so many outstanding volunteers who gave so much of themselves for the benefit of the community. They were drawn from all walks of life in the Valley and serve as models for others to follow.

As I said at the beginning, it has been a very busy month at Valley United Way, but we owe a debt of gratitude not only to those who work so hard today, but to all those who came before to make Valley United Way the organization that it is today.

For more information about Valley United Way, visit our website at www.valleyunitedway.org.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Working with the Ansonia Schools

 Wednesday night I had the pleasure of attending a meeting of the Ansonia Board of Education. Prior to the start of the business part of the meeting, the Board had a short, three part ceremony. During the first part, Mead School's enthusiastic principal Terri Goldson, recognized the achievements of  students who had achieved outstanding scores in the CT Mastery Tests as their proud parents snapped dozens of pictures of shy, but very proud students who represent all that is great in the Ansonia School system.

During the second part of the ceremony, they recognized four outstanding teachers in the system for the outstanding results achieved by students under their tutelage as Board Chairman John Lawler commended them for their dedication and service to the children of Ansonia.

And then they used the third part of the program to recognize three community groups for their support of the schools including Valley United Way. I believe that he Certificate of Appreciation in our case was mainly for the recent success of the Back to School Clothes for Kids program at Mead School, but it got me thinking about several of the ways that we interact with the schools and students in Ansonia - and there are many. To start with tow of our Board members have special ties to the schools. Carol Merlone is the Superintendent of Schools in Ansonia, and she is also serving as the Education Chairman of this year's Community Fund-raising Campaign. Bill Nimons is a board member at United Way, and he is also a member of the Board of Education.

Valley United Way also serves as the community partner for Ansonia's Discovery early childhood effort as well as for the regional effort in which Ansonia is also engaged. Ansonia High School is also an active member of our High School Volunteer Council. And finally, down through the years many Ansonia High School students and Ansonia residents attending other area high schools have been members of our Youth Leadership Program.

All in all, we have had a lengthy and mutually rewarding relationship with the Ansonia school system and I think it is a good example of how working together helps to make for a better school system and a better community for all of us. Thank you Ansonia Schools!

For more information about Valley United Way, visit our website at www.valleyunitedway.org.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Give - and Give Away

It's the busiest and most exciting time of year at Valley United Way as we are in the midst of the annual Community Fundraising campaign as you can see from the posters of some of those doing campaigns above. We will be out talking to people all over the Valley soliciting their support for the annual campaign. We'll have lots of stories and pictures and an occassional video on the campaign seciton of our website.

At the same time, we are also giving some of the money away. Our normal allocation process takes place in the spring, but at this time of year, we have a small grants program that we have called our Special Needs Program, and we began taking applications today through our on-line system. The total pool of money is approximately $45,000 this year, and the funds are from donors who specifically earmarked their funds for a special area such as the elderly, youth and recreation, substance abuse, child care, etc. These are dollars allocated separately from and in addition to the regular spring allocation process. The funds can be used to meet special needs of an agency beyond their normal budget. One grant of $10,000 to Valley Regional Adult Education to help boost high school graduation rates has already been made.

We made this a formal grant program starting in 2003 when the pool of funds was $13,000. It has grown quite a bit since then, and during the last two years we had grants of  approximately $50,000 and $47,000 respectively.

For more information about the campaign and the grant program, visit our website.

For more information about Valley United Way, visit our website at http://www.valleyunitedway.org/.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Valley United Way loses a great friend

I had planned to get caught up with some notes about last week's string of events today, but I just read the news of the passing of Ed Brickett yesterday. Ed lived a full and active life and was a community leader in everything that he did - including his years with United Way. He found time to chair an annual campaign in 1978 and then served as Board President in 1982. He was active in so many communtiy activites that I couldn't begin to recite all of them. Suffice it to say that after he returned from serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict, he was a leader in civic, government, religious and social organizations throughout the Valley.

The term "gentleman banker" surely was coined because of people like Ed Brickett.  He was a success and a leader in anything that he undertook. He will be sorely missed by everyone who ever came into contact with him.

For more information about Valley United Way, visit our website at www.valleyunitedway.org.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Great End to the Week

Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Club
On Monday, I wrote about a great start to the week with Nick Tarasovic's completion of the Tri-Challenge, and we're ending the week on a high note as well. This morning the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce hosted one of their regular Breakfast Club sessions with Jay Holm, President of Iroquois Pipeline Operating Company, as the guest speaker. The Chamber did it's always outstanding job of presenting Anniversary Breakfast Club Salutes to DiMatteo Group, Brownson Country Club and Advanced Decisions for their significant anniversaries in business before Jay took the floor.

Jay's presentation was especially relevant in light of the recent pipeline explosion in California. I think Jay did an exceptional job in setting everyone at ease as he explained all of the safety procedures built into the Iroquois operations. He also laid out a very strong case for natural gas as the "bridge" green energy solution as the country moves forward in solving our country's energy issues. He also gave a great view of the company's business growth and its business philosophy including their commitment to the community. Jay and Iroquois have won just about every award that Valley United Way has to give. If you look through our website, you will see Iroquois Gas and its employees mentioned in every area of the site. Certainly, their campaigns are the very best, but when you look closer, you will also see their involvement with all of the hands-on projects that we take on. So, I want to thank Jay and everyone at Iroquois for Jay's kind comments this morning - and for their years of demonstrating what corporate citizenship really looks like!!

By the way, if you want to see the video that Jay alluded to, click here.

Leadership Greater Valley

We also started a new year for Leadership Greater Valley last night. We have 19 people enrolled this year, and we're looking forward to another fantastic year. last night's session was on leadership. Next week we will be taking the Valley Heritage History Tour of the Valley, and I am looking forward to getting to know each of our participants during the course of the tour.

A feel good story for the week

And finally, we had another one of those feel good stories that we don't often have a chance to talk about. For as long as I have been here, we have had a quiet, but effective program that allows businesses and individuals to donate items to non-profit agencies that might have a need for them. We have the nonprofits linked electronically, so that we can alert them when something becomes available. 

We recently had one of those lucky occasions when a need and a donation coincided. I had a call from a family looking for a wheelchair. A family members health had deteriorated and now needed to move to a wheelchair for mobility. I had to tell the caller that we did not have one available, but I would keep the name in case something came up. Incredibly, about 15 minutes later, Kathy Barrios from Freedom Disability in Shelton called to say that they had a few items including a wheelchair that were looking to donate! A quick call back to the family looking for the chair, and we soon had a match.

What makes the story even better is that the family that received the wheelchair now wants to donate a tricycle for the disabled designed for someone with paralysis from the knees down. We're working to find a match for that as we speak. 

For more information about Valley United Way, visit our website at http://www.valleyunitedway.org/.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Over 40 years of leadership

 From 1968 to 2010!

Last night, United Way hosted a reception for members of the Commodore Hull Society, Valley United Way's leadership giving group. During the course of a very pleasant evening, we had the opportunity to take the unique picture that you see above representing the leadership of Valley United Way's Community Fund Raising Campaign from 1968 to 2010. 

Starting right in the center of the front row, you see Virginia Costigan who has been a very, very active volunteer in the Valley for decades. Back in 1968 when Valley United Way was formed from its predecessor  groups in Ansonia, Derby/Shelton and Seymour/Oxford, her husband Jack became the first person to ever chair a Valley-wide United Way campaign. Jack worked for the old Derby Savings Bank and was involved in just about every aspect of life in the Valley. Before his untimely death, he won just about every community award there was in the Valley including our own Charles H. Flynn Humanitarian award in 1994.

Everyone else in the picture also chaired at least one United Way campaign. In the front row you have Fred Ortoli (2009) and Ken Schaible (1980) and in the back you have Mike Marcinek (2004, 2005, 2006 & 2007!), Dr. Sal Graziano (1998), Joe Pagliaro, Jr. (2010) and Dave Grant (2008). Joe's father, Joe Pagliaro, Sr. was campaign chair in 1999. Fred and Ken were also Flynn Humanitarian Award winners, and Mike is currently Chairman of the Board. They are all still involved with United Way to this day, and are all still members of the Commodore Hull Society

I think their attendance along with the other members of the Commodore Hull Society who could make the reception signifies the strength of Valley United Way. Giving and caring are part of the very fabric of life in the Valley, and the members of the Commodore Hull Society demonstrate that every day of the year through  giving of their time, talents and treasures to make the Valley a better place.

On Monday, I wrote about the start of a great week with Nick Tarasovic's great story, and last night's reception made Tuesday pretty special as well! Thank you to all of our Commodore Hull Society members and also to La Scogliera Restaurant for their hospitality and great food.

For more information about Valley United Way, visit our website at www.valleyunitedway.org.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A great start to the week

It's always good when you get to the office on a Monday morning, and find good news waiting for you. That's exactly what happened today when I got to the office and found an e-mail from Nick Tarasovic in my in-box. I had been searching the Internet in vain last night to find the results from yesterday's triathlon in Sandusky, Ohio. My computer locked up before I could open his e-mail, so I had to wait while I re-booted the machine. It was worth the wait as Nick's simple e-mail simply said "Done 15:30" which was almost all that I needed to know. Basically, he was saying that he had completed the event in about 15 hours and 30 minutes.What it didn't say was how he felt after such a great accomplishment.

Shortly thereafter, the phone rang, and it was Nick. He sounded great - and he was feeling great, a bit sore maybe, but great. And well he should be. He has been in training for just about a year, but yesterday he put it all together and swam 2.4 miles, rode a bike for 112 miles and ran 26.2 more miles. Think about that!! You start in the morning at the crack of dawn, swim, bike and run all day and finish in the darkness. Any one of the individual events would be an accomplishment of its own, but doing all three on the same day - priceless!

I'm sure that we'll have more on our website in the coming days, but for now let's all have a big round of applause for Nick Tarasovic!

For more information about Valley United Way, visit our website at www.valleyunitedway.org.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Congratulations & Good luck

Last night I attended a Valley Community Foundation reception where they signed a historic agreement with the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven culminating years of discussion and negotiation that brought them to last night's agreement - and it's a winner for everyone involved. Under the new 7 year agreement the Valley Community Foundation effectively gains control of the decision making process for grants made from the funds left to the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven by the Gates brothers, Frank and Ross, years ago. This is truly historic as the Gates Fund was a major step forward for the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven when it was established, and it is a major step forward for the Valley Community Foundation today. Coupled with the success that they have already achieved in their early history, this agreement guarantees that the Valley Community Foundation will be a permanent part of the Valley's philanthropic landscape and that benefits everyone in the Valley community.

I want to congratulate everyone involved in reaching the agreement, but there are too many to mention here. I do want to single out my Derby High classmate and Valley Community Foundation President Jamie Cohen and his counterpart at the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, Will Ginsburg, for their leadership in moving the agreement along to yesterday's signing. It is obvious that their friendship and mutual respect for each other coupled with their vision for the success of both organizations played a major role in reaching the agreement. The agreement goes well beyond the Gates Fund in creating a strong and mutually beneficial working arrangement between the organizations; but for today at least, I think the main story is the Gates Fund.

Good Luck
If you have been following his story on our website, you know that this is the big weekend for Nick Tarasovic and the Tri-Challenge. During the course of his training, Nick has traveled over 4,750 miles through all kinds of weather from polar cold to tropical heat and humidity. That includes running more than the distance from New York to Florida, biking from here to Los Angeles and swimming across the state of Connecticut. I'm tired even thinking about it!

It all culminates this Sunday in Sandusky, Ohio where Nick will have to swim 2.4 miles, ride a bike for 112 miles and run 26.2 more miles in the Revolution3 Cedar Point Triathlon! All I can say is good luck on Sunday and congratulations for what he has already achieved. To date, we have pledges of $11,695.81 made on behalf of Nick as part of the challenge. We'll have a full story on the website next week.

For more information about Valley United Way, visit our website at www.valleyunitedway.org.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Energy Audit - A Useful Tool

 In earlier blogs, I talked about the cost savings associated with switching electrical providers and the fact that I have been saving about $20 - $30 on my bill since I switched about 18 months ago. As I had mentioned, Valley United Way is now urging people to take advantage of those cost savings and providing them with a quick and easy way to do so using a Shelton based electrical supplier - DiscountPower, Inc. This will also lead to a donation being made to Valley United Way based on the electrical usage of those enrolling in the program. The details can be found by clicking here.

Today, I'm writing about one of the other benefits of making the switch with DiscountPower. Once you enroll in the program, you are entitled to have a free energy audit done by another Valley based company - Seymour's Dr. Energy Saver. I called and booked my appointment a couple of weeks ago. About a week before my appointment, I was surprised to receive a packet in the mail. It included information about and pictures of the two technicians who would be coming to do my inspection. It also included a book about energy savings and the different methods that could be involved. It was a big help to have those things in hand before the audit.

Since my house is a bit older, and my oil bills are very high, I was expecting the worst and preparing for estimates for all kinds of work that could cost me more than they would be worth to do. Instead, I had an audit that was thorough and professional in every way and resulted in a recommendation not for a full range of measures to be taken, but rather for one that would return the greatest cost savings for the dollars that would need to be expended. It also included information about rebates and tax credits that could help to offset the costs.

I'm now mulling over my options, but I am very pleased to say that the audit was a worthwhile effort and was conducted professionally in every way. I think that anyone who signs up for the DiscountPower option for their electrical supplier should also take advantage of this great deal on the energy audit with Dr. Energy Saver to save even more on their heating and electrical costs.

For more information about Valley United Way, visit our website at www.valleyunitedway.org.