Community Gems: Rawlinses Honored at United Way Annual Meeting

HARTFORD—When Dr. Sedrick and Mrs. Alyce Rawlins moved to Connecticut in 1956, they soon found that life was far from easy for African Americans in Hartford’s North End. They were told to expect failure when they established Rick’s dental practice, and they had difficulties buying a home. But they were not about to give up, and before long, Rick and Alyce had established themselves professionally and were making a lasting mark on their community. 

The Rawlinses, who now live in Manchester, were recognized with United Way’s highest volunteer honor, the Community Service Award, at United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut’s 87th Annual Meeting March 15. The Community Service Award is given annually to a person or persons who demonstrate outstanding community service and are recognized by the community as leaders. It is given in memory of Dr. Frederick G. Adams, a former United Way board member, for his service to the community.

The Rawlinses were selected for the Community Service Award for their many years of involvement with the civil rights movement, health care and the arts.  Among his many civic activities, Dr. Rawlins is past president of the Hartford NAACP and helped to found Community Health Services, a nonprofit health center in Hartford’s North End.  Mrs. Rawlins, a former Aetna employee, founded IMPACT, a minority networking group that expanded beyond Aetna and the insurance industry to help advance the careers of individuals of color across Greater Hartford. She has also been active in the local arts community and has served as a volunteer with United Way determining how donor dollars were invested in programs and services.

“There are few individuals – and even fewer couples – who have done as much to serve their community as Rick and Alyce Rawlins,” said Natalie Morris, United Way Board Chair, who presented the award. “We are grateful for all they have done to provide opportunities for a better life for everyone in our region. They truly embody what it means to LIVE UNITED.”

Also present to honor the Rawlinses were Christopher Montross of Aetna, family friend Sara Roach, and Jackie McDermott Selman, chair of Community Health Services Board of Directors.

The annual meeting looks back at the past year’s progress and recaps the 2011 United Way Community Campaign, which raised more than $25.8 million, including $8.65 million that will be invested in education, income and safety net strategies through United Way’s Community Investment process. Mark Boxer, chief information officer at Cigna, gave the campaign report.

Elected to a three-year term on the Board of Directors were: Don Allan, of Stanley Black & Decker, Inc.; Peggy Buchanan, of the Greater Hartford Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO; Ray Necci, of Glastonbury; Rafael Rosado, of UTC Fire & Security; Luis Taveras, of Hartford Healthcare; and Lyn Walker, of Shipman & Goodwin LLP. Elected to a second three-year term were: Karen Prendergast, of the Greater Hartford Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO; and Greg Toczydlowski, of Travelers. Elected to a one-year term were: Michael Goldbas, of Deloitte; and Jerry Tarnacki, of Pratt & Whitney. Morris, of United Technologies Corporation, was elected chair of the board and Toczydlowski, was named treasurer.