It was cool autumn day in Downtown Lowell and nearly 100 community stakeholders were gathered in The American Textile History Museum for a morning of celebration and inspiration. It was the Threads of the Community, named as such as both a hat=tip to the venue and as a metaphor for how United Way cultivates impact, by bringing together all sectors for the benefit of the community as a whole.
The speaking program reflected this. Following a welcome from our own Wally DeGuglielmo, the parade of remarks was delivered by a lineup of legit movers and shakers: State Senator Eileen Donoghue, Robert Rivers, President of Eastern Bank, Gregg Croteau, Executive Director of United Teen Equality Center (UTEC), Nancy Donahue longtime United Way advocate and current board member and Mike Durkin, wrapping everything up. Jonathan Stevens, President of the Museum, thanked everyone and offered tours of the museum.
All told, it was thirty minutes worth of speaking, brief, heartfelt and engaging. Which is what we were going after: an enjoyable atmosphere in a cool venue featuring folks who think we’re sort of a big deal. The highlight of the program was most definitely Ricky, a recent graduate of UTEC, who told the audience about his struggles with homelessness and lawlessness as a teen, but, thanks to UTEC (a United Way partner agency), reinvented himself with a GED, a UTEC internship, a job at a credit union and enrollment in Middlesex Community College. Rousing applause followed.
Adorning the location were displays of our work: Brain Building, Summer Experiences in Greater Lowell, various volunteer opportunities and a hulking exhibit of Baby Basics bags and literacy kits, which were distributed to our partner agencies right after the event.
Gregg Croteau described his agency’s vision as one of “contagious passion.” That’s pretty great.
The event this morning was filled with contagious passion; it is the passion for the continued revitalization and strengthening of the city of Lowell and the Merrimack Valley–and United Way is spreading the contagion.
Wait. That sounds weird.