Our Annual Meeting was held on June 14, 2016 at West Acton Villageworks. Thank you to all who helped make this year's meeting an incredible success. The following remarks were presented at the meeting by Executive Director, Rachel Sagan.

It is a privilege to celebrate 35 years of Acton-Boxborough United Way and its service to the community with you today. Our 35th Anniversary is an opportunity to initiate new programs and fundraising goals. Grounded in the data from our Community Needs Assessment, we are launching the Community Impact Fund - a broad vehicle responding to the identified needs and pressures in our community. We are thrilled to share with you our new efforts to address the challenges of teen mental health – the Healthy Teen Initiative. The struggles of our youth were identified as a key topic of concern by residents in both towns. When the young people are struggling; we all suffer.

As part of the initiative, AB United Way has identified a team of mental health professionals that have already started to meet regularly to explore current needs, related services and opportunities that exist for collaboration regarding teen mental health.

The Healthy Teen Initiative will culminate in a competitive grant application in January 2017. This Grant seeks to utilize resources in the most efficient and effective way to develop or implement long-term solutions to address the documented community challenge of teen mental health. It can include new programs but will support collaborative projects to address this complex community need and will engage multiple community stakeholders.

In an expression of commitment to the issue of teen mental health and confidence in the generosity of the community, we are announcing an up to $25,000 challenge grant, from a private donor, to support the Healthy Teen Initiative. This amazing expression of generosity will match any new or increased support to the Acton-Boxborough United Way Health Teen Initiative. To kick-off this campaign of new and focused fundraising for the Healthy Teen Initiative, $10,000 was received today!

None of our work is done in isolation and our partnerships with other community groups have strengthened and deepened. With the PTSO, Danny’s Place for Youth Services and the middle and high schools, we brought community programs on parenting and family resilience. For example, David McCullough shared with us the difficulty of parenting and his understanding and compassion for our children with the comforting message that “You Are Not Special.”

We developed a new partnership with Minuteman Senior Services bringing a unique workshop for family caregivers – especially those in the “sandwich generation” coping with the challenges of caring for elderly parents and young children or teenagers.

Our Youth in Philanthropy program at the high school continues to thrive and our grants program will support 21 organizations dedicated to serving the human service needs of Acton and Boxborough – from hunger and housing to families who can not afford a safe summer for their children to families facing the crisis of domestic violence that affects so many from every rung on the economic ladder.

Finally, we are proud that the work of Acton-Boxborough United Way has been recognized beyond the borders of our towns on a regional and national level. I and we had the honor of receiving the Non-Profit Executive Director of the Year award from the Middlesex West Chamber of Commerce. Also, a leadership volunteer, who played a key role in the Community Needs Assessment, was selected to present a paper on the AB United Way Needs Assessment at the national conference of the American Public Health Association!

As I conclude with thanks for all that you do and give to your community I would like to share some thoughts on the act of generosity. Generosity is arguably a human trait that comes naturally. However, to truly realize your generosity potential, it needs to be continually exercised and strengthened.   Generosity involves sharing our time, our treasure, our possessions and our passions. Developing a practice of generosity makes it easier to give, creates flexibility, and develops creativity. Just as strengthening your physical muscles has many benefits, strengthening your generosity muscles will benefit your life in a multitude of ways - connectivity, purpose, positive energy, and more. When we give, we are less isolated, more connected to communities and issues greater then ourselves. Giving truly can result in greater joy and a life full of meaning. Thank you.