Our community is vigorous and diverse. It grows daily with the arrival of persons that come to work, study, rest and live in this beautiful place. The residents of Williamsburg and its surrounding areas care about the well-being of their neighbors, particularly those that might find themselves at a given moment in a critical situation. In this article we will write about two community organizations that help the less fortunate.

For over 50 years the mission of the United Way of Greater Williamsburg has been "to improve people's lives by mobilizing the caring power of our community". This is a philanthropic organization governed by local community volunteers that collaborates with multiple local not-for-profit entities. I had the pleasure of speaking with Ms. Joyce O'Brien, planning director of the United Way, who explained to me that the organization is the central agency that refers persons in crisis situations to the entities that can provide help. Among the services offered by the member agencies are: child care, clothing, shelter for persons that are temporarily without a home, medical attention, medications, mental health services, support programs for the elderly, services for the terminally ill and their families, youth programs, transportation services for medical appointments and support during the holiday season. The goal of these services is to help the persons to overcome the crisis and most of them are offered at no charge. If you or someone you know is really in need, you can access these services by calling the United Way Helpline at 757-229-2222. This is a confidential service and you can call at anytime, day or night. Keep in mind that the person taking your call probably will not speak Spanish, and if you do not speak English you will need someone to help you with the language.

  • Related
  • Vida Hispana

    This is a part of a series of articles in English and Spanish on topics of interest to the Hispanic community in our area. The articles were written with the encouragement of the Virginia Gazette and Ms. Gaby Rengifo, President of the Peninsula Tidewater Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
  • Topics
  • Family
  • United Way
  • United Way of Greater Williamsburg
Another organization that helps local families in times of emergencies is FISH, which has over 250 persons that offer their services in a completely voluntary manner. I also had the pleasure to speak with Ms. Cathey Sadowski, President of the Board of Directors. She explained to me that FISH offers food, clothing and transportation to the less fortunate members of our community. A family or individual in need may receive once every 30 days a generous supply of dry and canned foods and infant formula, together with sanitation supplies. They may also receive throughout the year clothing and household goods such as bed sheets, towels and blankets. The organization has a well-stocked selection area and the volunteers work hard to make sure that everything that is handed out is in optimal condition. Ms. Sadowski also pointed out that no child that visits the center would leave without a toy and a book. Transportation services are available to persons with medical appointments. Anyone in need of transportation must call three days in advance, although they will do their best to accommodate requests made with less than three days notice.

FISH can be contacted through the United Way Helpline (757-229-2222) or at 757-220-9379. If you cannot call and you need the food, you can go directly to FISH. To receive their services you will only need a picture ID, such as a driver's license.

How can the Hispanic community help United Way and FISH to fulfill their mission?

Both organizations depend on the generosity of the members of our community. You can help them with donations of food, sanitation supplies, clothing, money, and also of your time. Particularly helpful are Spanish-speaking volunteers to help clients that do not speak English. For more information on volunteer opportunities and how to contribute to FISH call 757-220-9379, to help United Way call 757- 253-2264 or visit their website at www.uwgw.org.

United Way of Greater Williamsburg

Helpline (you can call at any time) 757-229-2222

312 Waller Mill Road, Suite 100 Williamsburg, VA 23185 Phone: 757- 253-2264

FISH 312 Waller Mill Road Williamsburg, VA 23185 Service hours Monday through Friday 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. Phone: 757-220-9379

(Both organizations are in the same building)

Dr. Ralph Romero is CEO of ExactLingua, which offers translation and interpretation in all language combinations and is located in Williamsburg. He can be reached at rromero@exactlingua.com.