United Way Receives Freelander Award for ‘Life-Changing’ Support

September 29, 2021
By: Nancy Sheehan

The United Way of Central Massachusetts was honored with the 2021 I. Robert Freelander Award for its invaluable long-term support of Worcester State University and in recognition of the critical role the agency plays in the larger Central Massachusetts landscape.

The award was presented at the 23rd annual meeting of the Worcester State Foundation on Tuesday, Sept. 28. Tim Garvin, president and CEO of the United Way of Central Massachusetts, and Naomi Sleeper, chair of the United Way Board of Directors, accepted the award.

Established in 2013, the I. Robert Freelander Award is given by the Worcester State Foundation Board to an individual or organization whose professional accomplishments, devotion, and philanthropic support of Worcester State University represents and reflects the principles, ideals, spirit, and benevolence of the late I. Robert Freelander, a founding member of the Worcester State Foundation.

The United Way of Central Massachusetts has been an integral partner with Worcester State University for many years, Vice President for Advancement Thomas McNamara ’94 said, as he announced the award. Since 2005 the United Way has awarded more than $1.1 million in funds for one of the university’s largest centers – the Latino Education Institute, an investment McNamara described as “life-changing.”

“The impact of their investment on our campus and across the community have been life changing,” he said. “Through their generous support the LEI has access to much needed resources enabling them to transform the lives of thousands of Latino children and adults in Central Mass across more than 17 community-based education, health, and workforce readiness programs.”

In a statement read by McNamara at the meeting, Hilda Ramirez, LEI Executive Director, said, “Tim (Garvin) and his staff genuinely care about the needs of Latino youth and their families in our community. Not only do they listen when there are emerging issues, but they act, convening partners together, finding thoughtful solutions, and being flexible when challenges unfold.  They don’t just give away money—they are also ‘hands-on’ partners performing on-the-ground community-service helping programs like ours on the ground every day.”

Worcester State Foundation Board Chair Ann L. DeBiasio ’79 offered her congratulations to Garvin and the United Way on their100th anniversary and on being the newest recipient of the Freelander Award. “Truly we are fortunate to be able to honor you in this way,” she said. “Your organization is so deserving for all the incredible work you do to make our community a better place.”

In the above photo (L to R): Tom McNamara, Naomi Sleeper, President Barry M. Maloney, and Tim Garvin.

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