By Valerie Foster
January 9, 2024
Beyond our town’s palatial estates and lush lawns lies the working class of Greenwich, 7 percent of whom fall below the poverty line, and another 21 percent are one paycheck away from financial catastrophe. A fifth of the public-school population is eligible for free or reduced lunch. It’s to this demographic that the Greenwich United Way (GUW) dedicates a good portion of its resources, firmly believing that every Greenwich resident should have the opportunity to be healthy, educated and self-sufficient.
Formed in 1933 by Helen Wilshire Walsh as the Greenwich Community Chest and Council, this year marks GUW’s ninetieth year. The fact that Helen was able to raise $192,000 during the Great Depression makes this founding, and the needs it set out to fulfill even more compelling. Today, that seed money would be equivalent to $4.5 million.
“What Helen Wilshire Walsh did was incredible,” says David Rabin, GUW CEO. “She felt something had to be done for Greenwich’s most vulnerable, providing them with a safety net and lifting them up. This is what makes Greenwich so special. People care about other people.”
Although the name was changed to the Greenwich United Way in 1975, and the programs have evolved, the mission remains constant: identify unmet local health, educational and self-sufficiency needs; raise awareness and support; and collaborate with community partners to initiate solutions and implement programs that have a lasting and positive impact.