Friday, November 12, 2010

Uniting to support neighbors in need

Community support: From left, Washington, Erin Lee, Development manager for the United Way, and Raphael Sanchez, a trainee at YMCA Training, Inc., in front of a wall of resumes of trainees who have been placed in full-time positions.

"Doors opened for me that were sealed shut before. Now I had people standing on the other side of the doors, asking me to come in," says Rayshawn English, as he discusses the positive impact Bridge Over Troubled Waters (BOTW), a United Way-supported agency, has had on his life. BOTW, which offers prevention, intervention and education services to high-risk, runaway and homeless youth, is one of the more than 200 local agencies MGH employees can support through the hospital’s United Way campaign.

The campaign began Nov. 8 and will run through Nov. 19. This year’s slogan is "Upholding a 200-Year Promise to Our Neighbors," and the individuals and agencies the United Way supports truly are the MGH's neighbors. BOTW, for example, is located only blocks away from the MGH main campus.

"Geography has made us neighbors, but our connection with these agencies and the individuals who use their services goes beyond that," says Deborah Washington, RN, PhD(c), co-chair of the 2010 campaign and director of the MGH Diversity Program for Patient Care Services. "We are members of the same community, and when a member of our community needs support, we have a responsibility to help."

YMCA Training, Inc. is another agency MGHers can support through the United Way campaign, and like BOTW, is located less than a half-mile away. Rather than serving a specific segment of the population, as BOTW does with at-risk youth, Training, Inc. focuses on providing a specialized service: job training and placement. The organization’s training model is unique and highly intensive.

Through 600 hours of real-life workplace training simulations and internships, Training, Inc. participants develop and hone the computer, communication, problem-solving and teamwork skills they need to thrive in the workforce. "We help our trainees gain the skills they need to be self-sufficient and build life-long, successful careers," says Elsa Bengel, founder, vice president and executive director of Training, Inc. "Just last year, the program placed 83 of its 103 graduates in full-time administrative positions."

"The United Way elects to support only the very best and most deserving agencies out there,” says Liz Mort, MD, co-chair of the campaign and vice president for the MGH/MGPO Center for Quality and Safety. "As much as these agencies need our support, they also truly deserve it."

For more information or to donate to the United Way campaign, access

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